an elephant ride in bali


What could be a more magical experience than taking an elephant ride through tropical jungles. Sadly this seemingly innocent activity masks a brutal reality of elephants being taken from their mothers as babies, tied and beaten into submission and a long life spent at the mercy of cruel handlers armed with bullhooks.



Elephant calves are taken away from their mothers whilst still very young and endure cruel, abusive training methods to break their spirit and make them obey humans. They spend miserable lives in captivity, in appalling conditions. All too frequently Elephants die from exhaustion.

There are around 12,000 or more captive elephants in Asia. With approximately 38,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants globally, they are listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List and under Appendix 1 on CITES.

A South African animal rights group accused a South African elephant park of cruelty after horrific video footage emerged of abusive training methods used on baby elephants.

“The footage shows elephant calves and juvenile elephants being chained, roped and stretched, shocked with electric cattle prods and hit with bull hooks,” the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said.

“The elephants show signs of crippling injuries with severely swollen legs and feet, debilitating abscesses and wounds,” National Council of SPCAs inspector Wendy Willson said. The video was taken on the premises of Elephants of Eden in the Eastern Cape where they were being trained for elephant-back safaris.

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In countries such as India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, South Africa and Thailand, Elephants are used as cheap labour but mostly in the tourism industry; giving tourists rides or ‘treks’.

Thailand is the main location for elephant tourism.

World Animal Protection produced a report in 2010 called “Wildlife on a Tightrope”, documenting the conditions for captive elephants in Thailand. The organization surveyed 1,688 captive elephants in 118 venues across the country, most of which offered elephant rides or shows. The report stated that more than half of those elephants were in terrible conditions. ‘They were bound by “extreme” restraints. They were unable to socialise with other elephants. They did not receive veterinary care. And for those who suggest that the treks instill any kind of conservation ethos, World Animal Protection found only 6 percent of the venues promoted educational components with the treks.’

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