One of the easiest & kindest things you can ever do on holidays is to not ride elephants. Ever. This is still happening by thousands of holiday makers in Asia each day. Over 200 major travel companies stopped providing this. Intrepid Travel was one of the first to ban the practise. Trip Advisor doesn’t allow the sale of tickets.
Nearly all these places are designed as tourist traps to make money, no matter what they claim. They know how to exploit tourists; it’s their job. Real sanctuaries do not chain up their elephants (at all), they don’t allow elephant rides and they don’t do scores of “washes and scrubs” per day in pools they’ve created. They don’t isolate their animals and not let them interact (elephants are social), don’t make them do tricks, don’t pretend to cover anything up (i.e. their use of bull hooks, sticks and abuse) and you won’t see photos of hundreds of people in a crowd posing with the elephant trunks over their shoulders.
When you travel you have the choice to use your money for good (in this case to support conservation) or bad – enabling and supporting the abuse of animals and the environment whilst lining the pockets of a few exploitive humans. You also get to to teach your kids what to value and what’s important. These are amazing opportunities to show real conservation efforts instead and walk away having learned a lot and feel amazing about genuinely helping.
These beautiful elephant photos are from a trip Lis made in Africa a decade ago. The first at Serengeti in Tanzania, the second in Chobe National Park in Botswana and the last at Etosha National Park in Namibia. They are all wild as they should be. You see them only from the safety of your vehicle which maintains a healthy distance unless they choose to approach. The first here, the park rangers had seen for many, many years and they predicted he was about 90 years old and near the end of his life. You can never match these experiences in captivity.
Photo by Lis Dingjan