Have I known the damage it brings to the elephants when riding them, I would not have tried it when I was being offered to back then. Riding an elephant is not in my bucket list but having my picture taken beside the elephant is and being able to bathe them. There is just something majestic about the elephants that make people want to be near them.
So, here’s the flashback…
I was able to feed them and have my picture taken. And, since elephant riding is in the tour package, I rode the elephant. I thought I was very lucky because only twenty (20) of us were able to ride during that time and we were the first batch. It was a very short ride though and the elephant walks slowly and I can feel the humps on its hairy back. That was the first time I was able to touch the elephant’s thick and kinda rough skin. At that time, I thought I was very lucky to be given an opportunity of a once in a lifetime ride! But, at the back of my mind, I was wondering, are these elephants tired from doing all these? There are many other tourists wanting to ride and play with them. I remember one time in the oceanarium, the host tells us repeatedly not to touch the starfishes as they can be very stressed. What about the elephants? They might feel the exhaustion, right?!
Now, here is an excerpt that made me feel a bit guilty. Yeah, I was unaware before but now I was enlightened by this.
Their spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day can lead to permanent spinal injuries. Imagine carrying a 50 pound backpack for nine hours a day, every day on your back. Even after an hour or so, you can feel the weight of the backpack. Imagine what it would feel like to have it on your back nearly all of your waking hours. And, the long-term damage that can come from having it on your back all day. It’s the same with elephants.
Not only is there the issue of their spines not being made to carry people, but the actual implications from having the chair or Howdah attached to their backs. The contraption rubs on the back, causing blisters that can get infected. In addition, there’s the wear and tear on the elephant’s feet. Long-term trekking can cause foot infections and injuries.
Elephants are a lot like humans. They socialize, have families and friends, feel pain, sorrow, happiness and more. When they are at trekking camps, they are often times not with other elephants. They live their lives essentially in solitary confinement at some camps.
The question I had in my mind was now answered. Yes, they really get abused — a lot! Even me, I always have my breaks during long treks because my backpack was heavy, not to mention the heat under the scorching sun. If humans feel the pain, what about these creatures? I guess by now, you would also feel for them.
Kindly spread the word and share this post to raise awareness on this matter.