In many of the Asian countries, Elephants play a very prominent role in cultural history and mythology as well. In India, Hindus worship a god that has a head in the shape of an Elephant (Lord Ganesha). In Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) elephants have always played a pivotal role in cultural impact. They are magnificent and impressive animals.
Humans have even tamed them, against the massive aggressive nature and used them for different purpose. While ancient India had been using elephants for army (many ruined old Indian cities still flaunt the huge elephant enclaves, example Hampi), you may also check how illegal poachers have been using elephants in North East India and South East Asia as a means to transport wood load. Add to that, they are vulnerable for their prized tusks that often make the fall prey to the poaching squad.
The article here tries to highlight the already suffering condition of the beautiful elephants and urges them not to use them further as an amusement during your holidays!
Here goes a list of the Asian destinations where riding an elephant serves as a main attraction for the curious travelers. Often I have seen families travelling with kids and riding on the elephants as a source of fun and frolic. Let us first note down the places where the practice is followed in abundance.
1. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka
The small island is home to many of the animals from aforesaid species. In Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka, by the river the Maha Oya, is situated this sanctuary housing 78 elephants. The orphanage was established on the basis of the noble cause of feeding, nursing and housing young elephants found abandoned by their mothers.
Young elephants sometimes fall into pits and ravines in their quest for water, especially when there is scarcity of water. Other orphans have been displaced from their regular habitat by urbanization or construction or have been found abandoned before weaning, diseased or wounded in a weary state. Once they attain adulthood, they are often donated to different organizations. It is indeed a pleasure to watch the tuskers making merry and living in the facility. Interacting with each other.
2. Thekkady, Kerala, India
Periyar Wildlife sanctuary, situated in Kerala, God’s own country, is a bounty of nature. They house the beautiful animals and train them in restrained condition. You can interact closely with them. Watch them feed or even bathe with them. If lucky enough, you may get a chance to take a glimpse of the tuskers roaming free in wild!
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand
In the lap of mountain terrain lies another world famous wild life juncture that boasts of taking great care of the genteel animals. You may actually volunteer and help in this elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand. Watch them play with the sand pile, getting rehabilitated once separated from the herd at a young age, feed them from up close and personal space, the experiences here are to be cherished forever.
Reasons Why One Should Not Take Elephant Riding Tours
1. The baby elephants are often beaten into submission with clubs, pierced with sharp bull-hooks and simultaneously starved and deprived of sleep for many days.
2. They hardly ever receive veterinary care.
3. They are cruelly taken into captivity from the free wild habitat, often restrained and hardly can socialize with other elephants.
4. The mahouts hardly treat their elephants well and whenever they do not, elephants remember.
5. Under the curtain of entertainment industry, for long has been the practice of smuggling animals across borders.
If you consider yourself a responsible traveler, yet want to spend a few day or two amid the magnificent animals, do visit the parks and stay, even opt for volunteer.
However avoid riding on the poor fellows even when they advertise “good care” or “well trained”.