New report reveals extent of elephant riding in Southern Africa

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.38.50A new report by World Animal Protection highlights the rise in southern Africa of elephant rides and shows, tourist attractions that are already well established in parts of Asia. Kate Nustedt, Director of Wildlife at World Animal Protection, says: “You’re taking the wild out of Africa by breaking the spirit of their elephants so they can be ridden and perform for tourists.  People who love animals will be shocked about the cruelty behind the scenes of elephant rides, and they will no longer want to take part.  There are many places in southern Africa for tourists to see elephants in the wild, and we’re encouraging people to see them there, not in cruel tourist entertainment.”

Elephant rides are a popular and lucrative tourist activity, but behind the scenes, the animals are taken from their mothers, their spirits are broken, and they endure cruel and stressful ‘training’ to make them tolerate being ridden.

“We’re working with the industry to end cruel wildlife tourism,” continues Nustedt. “As a result of our work so far, over 20 travel companies around the world, including TUI Nederland, Intrepid Travel, Apollo, Albatros Travel and World Expeditions, have stopped offering and promoting elephant rides or shows to their customers. We’re calling on all operators to do the same – and to show their commitment to this by signing the World Animal Protection Elephant-friendly Tourism Pledge.”

In Brief
  • The first tourist elephant rides at parks in Africa started in the late 1990s and began spreading throughout South Africa in 2001. Most commercial elephant parks are in South Africa, where at least 144 captive elephants are held in at least 28 different venues. A further 47 elephants are held in seven elephant parks across Zimbabwe, 13 in two venues in Zambia, and 11 in two venues inBotswana.
  • 24 young elephants were recently sold and exported by the Zimbabwean government to Chimelong Safari Park in China[ii]. They will suffer a life of abuse performing in shows and giving rides.
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