Riding an elephant was once something which was once considered a bucket list activity when visiting South East Asia but in recent years it has come to life who unethical and dangerous they are to the Elephants. As they do not take proper care of the Elephants they are profit that's all they are there for. When I was in Cambodia I was lucky enough to visit an Elephant Sanctuary just outside Siem Reap, (https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/enp/visit-volunteer/projects/cambodia-elephant-sanctuary-cambodia-weekly-volunteer-49/view) which taught me all why you shouldn't ride elephants and I am here to share my knowledge.
When travelling I always believe we should stay as ethical as we can as the world isn't just ours and Elephant numbers have been dropping dramatically in the last 100 years, and Elephant riding has contributed to this as it takes Elephants out of their natural environment and breaks the family dynamic. As we have learnt in recent years that Elephants mourn another Elephant dies, they feel and I was told that baby elephants try to stand on their own trunks when they are being abused and trained so they can have people ride on them. Using bullhooks to stab them and teach them that pain is punishment. As they have to crush the spirit of the Elephant in order for the elephant to follow commands. This video may help explain.
Volunteering with Elephants in Cambodia was one of the best things I have ever done as seeing the Elephants in their true environment and is something which I will never forget as before this I had only ever seen them in zoos. And it may sound stupid but I was shocked at the size of them up close as it is surreal. And walking alongside them was a highlight which was out of this world.
Visiting Angkor Watt temple a few days later and seeing Elephants being ridden outside Temple Bayon was heartbreaking seeing them use the bull hooks to constantly remind them that they cannot do anything. I managed to get some photographs of the Elephants being reminded of this to show the true horror of what happens. And there were people riding the elephants and some of the people I travelled with were shouting as the people riding them, but they don't know any better and do not understand what they're doing wrong. And if they don't know they don't know, the world cannot be educated in a day. Although in these photographs he is not using the bullhook, he is using his feet to control the Elephant which is still painful for the elephants.
I would 100% recommend going an elephant sanctuary as seeing an Elephant in their true environment is a feeling like no other as they are truly beautiful creatures which should be left in their natural environment and not used for tourism!
When visiting South East Asia you will see people riding Elephants, they may not know any better or they might just be plain stupid, but we can not act upon what they're doing in my opinion, as this may anger the owner or upset the Elephant and put people in danger. No animal should be made to feel pain because of us, and we should do everything in our power to end this. But we cannot do it alone, we need to spread the message that this isn't something that is ethical, but it isn't something which is going to disappear overnight.
Ashleigh xx Here is a discount code, to give you £25 off your first trip over £55. www.airbnb.co.uk/c/ashleighh1808