Elephant riding- Just say NO!
By Zennor Bikini Owner and Designer @davinastickley
Once you have booked a trip of a lifetime your mind starts to race with excitement! Where will I go, what will I do, what have I always wanted to experience? For me when I booked my trip to Thailand I thought instantly I really want to ride an Elephant! I had seen so many awesome pictures of people having the most amazing time on the back of an Elephant! So it was definitely added to my Bucket List!
During our trip we stayed on an Island called Koh Samui, this island was insane! Amazing beaches, crystal clear oceans and plentiful jungle to go and explore.
One day we went on a trek into the Jungle to find a secret Waterfall! On the way we passed a Elephant ‘sanctuary’ which offered Elephant rides to tourists. It was so amazing to see these creatures close up they looked so beautiful and friendly. The Elephant tour guides had a few Elephants out and about for passing tourists to come and meet and the Elephants seemed happy. But we did notice some had chains around their ankles and there were small pens which were round the back of the ‘sanctuary’ which looked really tiny, certainly not big enough for an Elephant. For me and my friends seeing this was enough to fully put us off paying for an Elephant ride. But believe me the people selling these rides had great chat to put the concerned tourists at ease. And many many tourists were going on these rides.
Although my dream of riding an Elephant was diminished I felt good walking away from the ‘sanctuary’.
After my trip I did a little research into the realities of Elephant riding and I was absolutely shocked to the core. As one fellow travelling Mermaid to another I feel its important to share what really goes on behind closed doors in the Elephant tourism industry.
1. They are stolen from their families.
At a very young age baby elephants are taken from their mothers and families, as they are easier to train from a young age. When they are captured the mothers are nearly always killed as they are so protective over their young and they are dangerous towards the poachers.
2. The training regime is absolutely brutal.
Wild elephants won’t let humans ride on top of them. So in order to tame a wild elephant, it is tortured as a baby to completely break its spirit. The process is called Phajaan, or “the crush”.
It involves ripping baby elephants away from their mothers and confining them in a very small space, like a cage or hole in the ground where they’re unable to move.
The baby elephants are then beaten into submission with clubs, pierced with sharp bull-hooks, and simultaneously starved and deprived of sleep for many days. The owner then punishes the elephant on a daily basis if it does not follow instructions. (https://expertvagabond.com/elephants-in-thailand/)
3.They are wild animals they are not built to carry people.
Elephant suffer from spinal injuries and exhaustion when they are forced to do multiple rides a day. Many Elephants in this industry die usually from exhaustion and have very short life expectancies.
4. You are in danger when you ride an Elephant.
Due to the severe training progress and daily punishment these beautiful creatures endure, Elephants have been known to lash out in aggression. The tragic story of a British tourist who was killed by an elephant in Thailand in February 2016 is a stark reminder to us all. Please remember this if you are tempted, you are putting yourself at high risk of injury and even death.
We hope you will think twice when you are offered an Elephant ride, please share this blog to spread awareness about this brutal industry. This is just one threat regarding Elephants, these beautiful creatures are also facing death from the ever growing ivory trade and habitat loss due to the expansion of the human population. To be honest we didn’t realise just how bad the situation is! That is why we have decided to donate 10% of sales to savetheelephants.org when you purchase our Tribal Elephant products.
We are also very excited to announce we are now donating to seashepherd.org check out our Whale blog to find out how you can help!