Keeping Asia's Elephants Happy
Life Before Work Travel (LBW Travel) is leading a movement towards ethical treatment of elephants. The reputable travel company is one of the first in Canada to completely remove visits to parks offering elephant rides.
Upon extensive research, the company has made an executive decision to remove all experiences deemed to be harmful to elephants and other animals and will now only include trips to ethical elephant sanctuaries for their travellers.
The wild Asian elephant is a fully protected Endangered Species. Thailand’s tourism industry employs over 2,000 elephants and some experts put the total number of wild elephants in Thailand below 1,000. Over the years, Thailand and surrounding countries has seen a rapid decline in the Asian elephant population and tourism continues to fuel this decline.
Riding elephants continues to be an unethical practice due to the use of heavy metal saddles, ropes, sharp hooks and torture tactics to disciple the incredibly intelligent animals.
A recent BBC news article (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28161472) discusses the cruel elephant trade in Southeast Asia. It describes how calves are herded into pit traps where the older elephants are often shot. Younger ones are then shipped to the Thai-Myanmar border where they are brutally beaten into submission as they are "tamed" for tourist camps in Thailand. This is just one of many harmful tactics used to “break in” a wild elephant and turn it into a tame elephant. In most circumstances, the elephants live a life of solidarity, chained up to a post; waiting for the next tourist to hop on its back. This strays far from the natural life of these highly sociable, emotional and intellectual creatures.
Eric Elder, Marketing Director at LBW Travel states: “We have decided to take this somewhat risky leap away from elephant rides, and from this point forward we’ll be visiting elephant sanctuaries where we positively impact the lives of these animals. Elephant rides are a popular feature for our trips but we hope that future travellers will recognize why we’re making this decision and that the wellbeing of these animals is a top priority."
Travellers will be given the opportunity to assist in bathing and feeding the elephants. Volunteering is vital in the welfare of elephants and allows for greater insight and understanding of this fascinating species.