With the new year coming, I’m dreaming of travel. Maybe you are too? But, if riding an elephant was on your bucket list, you might want to think twice:
Daniel Turner, Associate Director for Tourism at Born Free told the BBC:
While some may consider riding on top of the largest land mammal to be a cultural experience that holds an air of romance, few recognise that this practice actually significantly compromises the welfare of these magnificent animals and potentially places people at risk.
Riding or interacting with captive elephants, swimming with dolphins, walking with lions, or cuddling a tiger cub for a photo – these are just some of the many worrying tourism excursions and activities involving animals. All can impact on the welfare of the animals involved, and risk people’s safety.
What can you do instead? Visit a sanctuary, where often you can interact with the elephants (feeding them, helping with bath time) yet know that they have plenty of time with their peers and in natural surroundings.
Here are some reputable ones I’ve heard about:
The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Thailand
Elephant Nature Park, Thailand and Cambodia
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kenya
The Elephant Sanctuary, South Africa (3 locations)
Elephant Rehabilitation Center in Agastyarvanam Biological Park, India
Millennium Elephant Foundation, Sri Lanka
YouTube: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya