How to Avoid Supporting Elephant Cruelty

asian elephant sri lanka

June is approaching, as if! Apparently there are only 20 Friday’s left until Christmas?!

I am honestly dreading the day that I wake up and realise I am 30… So while I am getting older and wiser, I shall share my experiences in hopes that it will help you make the right decisions.

Many of us are fascinated by Elephants, I think they are the most mesmerizing mammals to walk this earth. So it is no surprise that elephant rides are such a big hit for zoo’s and any other tourist “sanctuary/orphanage” etc. Even I fell for the trap 7 years ago when I didn’t know better and went for an elephant ride in Phuket, Thailand.

elephant safari udawalawe

Image by Marie Norton

The number 1 rule is, if they offer elephant rides, they aren’t doing what is best for the elephant. The weight on the elephant’s back can be damaging, especially with the added seating equipment. So if you see anything to do with a ride, do NOT take part.

The second rule is seeing someone close to the elephant with a stick or spiked end tool, this is usually their “caretaker”. According to PETA, Elephant’s in captivity are usually trained from a young age through beatings! Seeing a caretaker around them with a stick only shows that the Elephant is scared and will listen to avoid a beating – it is heartbreaking.

Elephant conservation

Thirdly, do not be fooled by the words “sanctuary”, “shelter” or “orphanage”. These centres or parks or whatever you want to call the disgusting trade, know that more people are aware of the cruelty in this industry so they have re-invented them. But nothing has actually changed in terms of how they treat the elephants.

elephant sanctuaryThe elephants should be free to roam without any chains or shelters to be kept in, because having to stand in when area without be able to move around causes issues with their foot and arthritis.

If the elephant is forced to do anything , such as pose or have their care takers tap them so that they had into the waters for you to bath them, then you know they are being mis-treated. When we went to the Mondulkiri project, we had banana’s on us which enticed the elephants to come into the water, but no one who worked there was touching the elephant, and the minute the elephant’s were ready to go, they did just that.

elephant sanctuary mondulkiri

Always find out what conservatory work the “charity” or “sanctuary” is doing before visiting. If they are just sheltering captive elephants, the your common sense should tell you that there is something not quite right. For example, some are rescue shelters where elephants are bought from owners who used them for hard labour. Other’s like Dilmah conservation in Sri Lanka rescue orphaned or abandoned calves and care for them with the aim of re-integrating them into the wild.

To sum up, do your research before you commit money and time to an organisation that is actually harming these beautiful, innocent animals. Any chains, confined shelters and sticks on handlers is a warning sign for bad treatment. It is our responsibility to stop supporting these places and instead, call them out.

As a first step, educate anyone that is travelling or planning to visit countries that are notorious for exploiting elephant’s – Thailand, Cambodia, India, Sri lanka…. just to name the few. There are organisations out there that are doing great work to help the conservation of elephants, you just need to find them, and I want to help bring awareness to them as well as the “exploiters”.

Please help by commenting or sharing any experiences of good or bad Elephant “sanctuaries” so we can start to put an end to this.




Author: meladela

Just a curly girl who loves to eat and travel.

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