Elephant Rides

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Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:22 AM
  #1
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Elephant Rides

Rather than hijack other threads, I thought I'd start a new one to get answers from those of you that discourage people from riding elephants.

I'd like to better understand: Why are so many of you against riding African elephants but not Asian elephants? There's lots of tourist activities that include riding Asian elephants as well.

I don't know much about horses, but when I went on a riding vacation I was shocked to realise that horses do not enjoy being ridden. Why don't people protest against horse rides? Because they're domesticated? But if they were domesticated they wouldn't have to be broken in, would they?

Why put any animal to work for us humans?
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 02:16 PM
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All good points, and can't say about horses as I've never been, nor wish to do so. Riding bulls, ostrich, and who knows whatever else we humans do... for fun and entertainment!

As to elephants, I'm as firmly against riding Asian also.

In today's world, any animals that are used by humans for work has to be questioned. Unfortunately, in many countries these practices are cultural/custom (way before there was technology to handle what they do), provide jobs/income and will take many years for change to happen.

But, as with any change... it's gotta start with the first step. And, whatever humans can do to effect these, we should.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 02:36 PM
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Here is why I suggest not riding African elephants.

The temperament of the African ele is different from the Indian ele and can require harsher methods to train them that could be considered cruel.

There are alternatives to riding African eles in Botswana such as Seba where you watch eles in close proximity and Baines/Stanley's where you walk with eles. Abu's (about $2000/day and out of reach of most budgets) does riding, but I think they are very humane with the eles.


In India there is a culture of working elephants that are ridden, just as there are riding horses in many other cultures. Ele backed safaris seem to be more of a recent development for tourists in Africa. In India, the elephants are used for patrols, moving trees, tiger cenuses, etc. with or without tourists. Almost all were born into a domestic setting. In Africa, elephant riding tends to be more of a tourist activity that prompts domestication attempts to provide the elephants for that activity. My concern is the African elephants have been unnaturally removed from their native habitat. Sometimes though, the riding elephants are orphans from mass cullings or poaching that might have died in infancy without intervention. But I'd rather the intervention not include being ridden by humans.

Some of the objections to riding elephants probably stem from wanting to reduce unnecessary cruelty, similar to objections to veal or foie gras from meat eaters; objections to animal testing for cosmetics from those who weather leather; or objections to fur coats from animal skins when faux fur is available.

I'll be interested in what others have to say.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:50 PM
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I think Dr. Joyce Poole is the best person to listen to. She is an elephant researcher of 37 years. Her research is published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

"The brutal truth is that most elephants are trained for elephant back rides or safaris through a practise no elephant owner will talk about. The elephants' spirits are broken through unbelievably gruesome methods, while they are tied up or chained in a pen where they cannot move.... With the growing number of tourists and many ignorant travel agencies and tour operators, the life and well being of hundreds of elephants both in Asia and in Africa is at stake"
Please read her entire statement here: http://tiny.cc/rides-evo

I agree, animals were not put here to serve us. Let's say no to the culture of domination over others.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 06:03 PM
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For me criticism of any questionable practice stems from one theory. If a questionable practice exists, it would automatically lead to abuse- almost always.

Supporters of the said practice could forever give reasoning and sound reasoning on why a particular thing is done - for example elephant riding- people say all the time these are elephants that have been rescued and didnt have a hope to survive or that the Walk with elephants, walk with lions, riding elephants etc helps in raising funds for conservation. But as long as some people do it and maybe even do it the right way, there would be many others who would do things wrongly just because the window to abuse is open and animals would always be seen as commodities. Poachers and abusers would always find a justification in what they do because they see other people doing the 'same' thing. The wrongs outweigh the rights.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 06:28 PM
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Sandi - I understand your stance because it is applied across the board; no riding anything, end of story.

Lynn - Your perspective seems to be what I hear more often. But training Asian elephants is no easy task either. Born wild or in captivity, their spirit must also be broken. I think perhaps Asian elephants are slightly more compliant and so are put to work in all the situations you list and more.

dannii - The statement you quote also applies to all elephants, so that seems fair.

Tanya - Your explanation that we humans can turn any task to bad no matter how well intentioned is probably true.

I was really seeking clarification for myself on the dilemma, and you've all articulated, at least in part, what I've been thinking.

Most animals would rather not be put to work for us (nor would most people!). But until the time they can all roam free, it is our duty to ensure they are treated as humanely as possible.

In most countries I've visited, animals are treated slightly worse than the people. As the lot of the people improves, so does animal welfare.

Thanks for helping me sort that on out. Now, on to world peace
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:53 PM
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Interesing. I am about to leave for India and the tour planner (Indianpanorama) advised me NOT to ride the (Asian) elephants at Jaipur (or anywhere) due to the cruelty to them. No elephant riding for me
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 10:58 PM
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I don't ride them in Asia either.

Yes, it's a tradition there, and the mahouts know their animal, some really care about that animal too, and some may have methods of training that are not really bad for the animal, etc...

But I still don't like it. So I don't do it.

J.
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