PredatorBiologist, What are your thoughts on this?

Old Jun 19th, 2007, 01:45 PM
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Posts: 836
PredatorBiologist, What are your thoughts on this?

Pred, I'm not sure if you have very much time to surf the boards with your recent arrival and all but if you are I would love to hear your thoughts on this:

I came across it while 'browsing' (I'm only allowed to browse and not plan before our July trip )

Somehow, to me, my initial thoughts are that they shouldn't be 'used' for elephant back safaris. Of COURSE I would LOVE an up close and personal elephant walk / encounter but, not if it is at the expense of 'hurting'(not the correct word but can't think of the word I'm looking for right now) these ellies ...

OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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Hi Imelda

While I am not Predator Biologist, I have quite strong feelings about using African eles in this context.

I agree with you that the eles are being "used" in this instance and according to articles I have read, in some countries, babies are still being stolen from the wild to be used for this commercial purpose.

Having been to Stanley's Camp in Botswana in Sept 2001 and seeing him with his eles, I would never want to see them doing these, to me, almost circus walks! Doug Groves has 3 eles, that were all rescue eles, and he teaches them things that they need to be able to do for their own health and safety, for example, lying down for a foot examination or opening their mouths for examination. I know they did ride the eles themselves from South Africa to Botswana, but have never allowed guests to do so. Doug Groves has been amazingly patient with these eles over the years, and treats them with the respect they fully deserve.

How these majestic creatures are treated to get to the point of being ridden, is a horrifying thought. The more profitable the venture is, I would imagine the more people will jump on the bandwagon and the inexperienced staff will pay the price, as will the poor animal who ends up killing someone.

Try and get to Stanley's as you will have an up close encounter with eles that are well cared for and in no way are they being "used".

Kind regards

KayeN is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2007, 07:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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I'm not PredatorBiologist either, but like the other Kaye I agree that it don't bear thinking about what these elle's have been put through to get them to 'accept' people riding them. Also agree Doug and Sandy Groves' offer a great, humbling experience in the delta with meeting Jabu, Thembi and Marula. Having met with them all, I am grateful that I was able to 'get up close and personal' with these creatures. Not something that is usually available (or recommended) in the wild and not the same experience when the animal is living in captivity. It is a unique encounter because to this day I have with it, no qualms about issues associated with animal cruelty. I consider, in the circumstances Jabu, Themi and Marula are deeply respected, protected and cared for like royalty by Doug, Sandy and their crew. Basically I can sleep at night, even having interacted, in what might otherwise be a very 'unnatural' meeting with basically wild creatures, and that's important.
As a traveller who wants to be as sure as I can be that no harm comes to creatures just because I want to see them, I would view any operation that rides elephants as part of the experience a 'red flag' for past, current and/or continuing animal abuse. Doug and Sandy demonstrate that one can met eles as equals, in peace and for the benifit of all parties.
My advanced apologies if I sound harsh in judging the Addo operation. As you can see I have a strong opinion about such things.

Mega4namaddy is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2007, 10:36 PM
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Hi Imelda, you are right that with Leo placing some new demands on my time I'm browsing the boards a little more infrequently (and incoherently) but you caught me well with the title.

My views are similar to the two Kayes. My biggest concern is the popularity of elephant activities create a big incentive for other areas to start doing them. There always seems to be some kind of explanation of how the elephants came to be there and I'm sure that Stanley's isn't the only place where the care is genuine and well done but its hard for the consumer to really know the details which makes me in general want to avoid them all rather than support the demand for more captive tourist elephants.

Elephants are naturally sociable and so intelligent that I imagine some individuals could possibly be trained to allow riding and such without it being cruel or harmful but of course in Asia it has been common for abusive training to take place so again it becomes what can you believe -- perhaps the training and interaction is stimulating and welcomed (if living in the wild is no longer an option) and perhaps its not. I would just urge people interested in such activities to do some thorough research and ask questions and make sure you feel confident that the operation is following good principles that you believe in. One thing I watch out for is when they let tourist animals breed. If the operation was truly to take in victims of some unfortunate event it makes no sense to me to have them breed more generations of tourist captives -- that is simply commercial enterprise. I would like to go to Stanley's sometime and I would consider researching other similar offerings and visiting them but unfortunately even when it is well done like Stanley's it will just encourage others to pursue their own elephant offerings so there is no escaping some negative impact.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2007, 03:20 AM
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I am not PredatorBiologist and I'm not the two Kaye's either.

I concur with K, K & PB. Pb's comments on any elephant activity being a precursor to others wanting to run elephant activities is a good one very thought provoking. I do believe from the research Kaye and I did prior to our trip that the elephant experience is a ridgey didge operation with sound ethics, treatment of Jabu, Thembi and Morula and of more importance and what attracts us to support this operation is their Education programme for local Batswana children (and Sanctuary Lodges accomodation and support for this venture too).

So while the ele experience had elements I was thoughtful about - the overriding premise of education, conservation through kids being able to meet three semi-habituated ele's and take with them into their communities not only a new understanding, education and enthusiasm - but also the opportunity to grow into the future conservationists, guides or as subsistence farmers they may one day need to deal with the human/elephant conflicts and knowing more about the elephant. Having met them prersonally may be more inclined to find more ele-friendly ways to mitigate against crop damage than killing the perpetrators of the raids.

I do not think that other operators that offer elephant back rides, or walking with young lions (and the association with canned hunting industry this raises) furthers such aims as Doug and Sandi Groves mission.

It is far removed from animals as entertainment and I think that they have not gotten rich on the back of these ele's. Rather the opposite in fact

I came away from that experience a changed woman, I could not talk about it for months without getting choaked up and teary. I was humbled, in awe and moved. It has affirmed my bunny hugging ways.

There is more detail about this experience in our recently posted trip report here

Hope our comments have helped you in your "browsing-not-planning" Imelda
Thembi is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2007, 03:30 AM
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Thanks Kaye, Kaye and Pred!!!

I think I just wanted my suspicions confirmed really. It was actually reading Lynnes comment about the Elephant walks at Stanley's in Botswana on another thread that started me searching on the topic. I would LOVE to visit Stanleys but I'm still avoiding malaria areas for next year so that's out ....oh well, it will just have to go on my 'places to go' list along with Mala Mala and the others - when I do eventually get back into malaria areas that's got to be one heck of a trip

OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2007, 04:19 AM
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Hi Thembi,
I missed your post when I posted. Your experience sounds absolutely amazing and I think your 'conclusion' about the Stanley camp experience being a good thing re education is spot on - if it makes farmers even just 'think' before they act then something has been achieved.
I am absolutely totally and utterly 'in-love' with elephants. In my opinion they are THE most amazing animals and ever since I saw my first ellie on TV as a child and then in real life for the first time in Zimbabwe I have been smitten. I would ADORE to experience Stanley Camp and those amazing 3 ellies. It is going high on my list!
I haven't read your trip report yet but I'm printing it out as we speak.
Thank you VERY much for your thoughts and input, it's great to hear positive things from someone who has 'been there'.

OnlyMeOirish is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2007, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Imelda - you are welcome. I too am a woman possessed by elephant.

Happy travels, hope you enjoy our trip report.
Thembi is offline  
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