“These elephants have had hard lives. They would have begun life by being ripped away from their mothers at a young age and then cruelly trained to make them submissive enough to ride. After this, their everyday life would be strenuous - having to walk up and down on the hard surfaces of the Fort each day with tourists on their backs, and then being kept in inadequate conditions."
After World Animal Protection has campaigned for years to phase out elephant riding at Amer Fort in India, the Forest Department of Rajasthan has finally ordered 20 severely sick elephants to be retired.
Following veterinary inspections of the elephants in July 2020, the department declared that on medical and moral grounds, the sickest and unfit animals should no longer be used for entertainment purposes, which is a progressive step forward.
India’s Amer Fort is an iconic site, attracting thousands of tourists every year. The fort has over 100 working elephants, that until the pandemic hit, were forced to carry tourists up and down the steep paved floors to the fort. Each elephant will do this hot and unpleasant journey multiple times a day, carrying numerous passengers. They are controlled using bullhooks and live in severely inadequate conditions.
World Animal Protection has been putting pressure on the local authorities to retire the elephants at the venue, not only because of the cruelty involved but also because many are in dire need of medical help.
10 elephants have tuberculosis
62 have blood problems
19 are blind
Most are malnourished
All 102 have foot problems
World Animal Protection believes that the tourism industry is in a unique position to reset the current status quo and restart tourism the right way, by phasing out captive wildlife such as elephants used for entertainment, and instead of using humane alternatives such as electric or battery-operated vehicles. The elephants could be retired to genuine sanctuaries which also offer tourism opportunities for ethical travellers. This would appease the growing movement of people that are turning their backs on cruel elephant rides, as our research shows that:
41% of tourists think it’s acceptable to ride an elephant in 2019, compared to 53% in 2014
39 % of tourists that visited Amer Fort believed the elephants were in pain and suffering
21% would recommend friends and family to not ride elephants.
Nick Stewart, Head of Campaign – Animals in the Wild, World Animal Protection said:
“These elephants have had hard lives. They would have begun life by being ripped away from their mothers at a young age and then cruelly trained to make them submissive enough to ride. After this, their everyday life would be strenuous - having to walk up and down on the hard surfaces of the Fort each day with tourists on their backs, and then being kept in inadequate conditions where they would be unable to express themselves naturally.
“We are delighted that around 20 of them are finally being retired from this awful life of captivity, but we will not give up until elephant riding is a thing of the past. Elephants are wild animals – not entertainers.”
World Animal Protection is calling on everyone, from holidaymakers to tourist operators, to take responsibility and put an end to the exploitation of wild animals forever – less demand will mean less elephant suffering.
India is home to the second-highest number of elephants used in tourism, and of the 21 venues housing 509 elephants, our research found 45% (225) of the elephants were kept in severely inadequate conditions
There are more than 3,000 elephants used for tourism in Asia
Our research looked at these elephants and found three out of four of them were living in poor and unacceptable conditions
All of these elephants were kept at venues offering elephant rides
If an elephant attraction or experience is offering rides or shows, there’s a 96% chance the elephants live in cruel and inhumane conditions
In comparison, at the elephant attractions, we studied in Asia where elephants are only observed, not being made to give people rides, bathe with them or perform in shows,100% of the elephants were living in good welfare conditions.