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Have Your Tourist Dollars Kept Elephants Enslaved?

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post | July 14, 2014

Have you visited Thailand, do you know someone who’s going there, or are you planning a trip to that country? Here’s one tourist trap that definitely belongs on the “to-don’t” list: elephant rides. A new report from the wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC reveals that up to 81 live elephants were illegally captured for sale into the Thai tourist industry between 2011 and 2013. Most of these elephants were reportedly taken from Myanmar, where trafficking poses a serious threat to the survival of the country’s free-roaming elephant population.

According to the report, traffickers use elephants who have been beaten into submission to corral herds of free elephants into pit traps. The older members of the herd—often mothers and aunts who will desperately try to protect their babies—are reportedly often shot, and the younger, more profitable calves are taken to the Thailand-Myanmar border to be systematically “broken” by being confined inside log boxes and beaten into submission.

After being violently torn from their families and homes, these elephants are forced into a miserable existence of lugging loads of tourists on their backs every day, often through sweltering temperatures. They are routinely beaten with bullhooks—rods with sharp hooks on one end—and denied adequate food and water. Many elephants develop pressure sores and suffer from chronic problems with their sensitive feet

Tourists’ dollars fund this cruelty. Please, never visit elephant camps or take elephant rides, and urge everyone you know to stay away, too. And please speak up for other elephants who are kept in captivity, such as Mali, who is languishing in the Manila Zoo.

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  • Elizabeth Jones says:

    No animal wild or otherwise should be used to “entertain” anyone EVER

  • Sharon Garlena says:

    This is animal torture and abuse and these people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  • LINDA L. HEIMBACH says:

    Shame on them!!

  • farhea says:

    Animals feel pain, they have emotion, they just cannot speak, but you can see fear and sadness in their eyes. There is a difference in the demeanor of a happy and free animal and one that has been abused mercilessly. Humans are most ignorant of beings.

  • kanta bharadva says:

    if animals could talk they will tell us, “don’t abuse use please be kind to us, we do not want to leave our homes”

  • We humans should stop this nonsense immediately. We must understand importance of life of animals and birds as well, on this earth and should try to protect them for generations to come.

  • corinne says:

    There are several places as sanctuaries or little family run projects where old or injured elephants are rescued from trekking and abuse. Why do not make promotion about these places. Of course, it is more expensive but you can see and contribute to care of these elephants. Guides books do not speak much of these places but with a little curiosity and searches, you certainly find good sanctuaries to meet happy elephants. Also, you can be volunteers to help during one week or more.

  • Disgusting. am embarrassed to be human.

  • EUGENIA MIXON says:

    I WILL NEVER VISIT THIALAND DUE TO THEIR USE OF ANIMALS FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SPECIFICALLY, ELEPHANTS. THEY ARE VERY SENSITIVE BEINGS & SHOULD NOT BE USED IN THAT WAY!

  • Eileen Goddard says:

    So unacceptable.

  • Danielle De Bernardis says:

    Touristes abrutis et idiots, réveillez-vous!
    Il est temps que les tortures et la mal-traitance qu’engendrent ces aberrations contre-nature cessent. Quoi de plus beau et de plus gratifiant, que d’observer un animal dans son environnement naturel?

  • Heloise Shand says:

    Absolutely disgusting! What sort of low life would pay someone to humiliate an animal. I’d like to see a tourist grab the rope/stick off that person and make them do the same trick. See how they perform, that would be worth paying for!

  • Barbara Menapace says:

    so now you tell me why its wrong…..
    elephants in captivity will always be a source of disease and suffering for elephants. Cramped enclosures and hard surfaces cause a variety of problems, including deadly foot disease and arthritis, infertility, obesity, and abnormal repetitive behaviors such as swaying and head bobbing. Captivity can create stress and often-dangerous situations for elephants who have no choice but to co-exist with other elephants who may or may not be compatible. This has resulted in injuries and even deaths of captive elephants throughout the world.
    Yes it is cruel and inhuman…..

  • Julia Borrowman says:

    Sick and cruel. I’m saddened by what humans can do to defenceless animals

  • Torah says:

    These people just do not seem to understand that animals were not meant to be used for personal entertainment. Animals should be free to live & roam in their own habitat without fear of humans.

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