With elephant logging now illegal in Thailand, many owners look to the tourism industry for income. There are over 2000 working elephants in Thailand now with tour treks, as street beggars or performing in elephant circus shows. While it is fun and exciting to see an elephant up close, feed her bananas, or walk through the jungle on her back, reality is much different.
Before all elephants work they must first endure a horrific torture called a phaajaan in order to break their bodies and minds into submission and listen to their owner. During a phaajaan, elephants are confined and tied in a wooden cage and using sharp metal hooks on ends of sticks, people swing full blows at the elephant's whole body, especially their inner ear, one of the most sensitive parts of their body, for several days straight. The bloody screams and terrified expressions of the elephant go unrecognized.
Every single working elephant has gone through this horrific ordeal. The torture doesn't stop there; they are overworked, suffering broken backs, water poisoning from dirty city water, starvation, broken legs from falling from tiny platforms (in shows), the list goes on...
Only through awareness and education will the demand for these industries stop the need for working elephants. The Lonely Planet Guides are printed in 8 languages and are the most popular traveler's guide. This petition demands the addition of the dark side to elephants in the tourism industry in the company's books so that travelers may make conscious decisions before supporting this cruel abuse. While there are other important issues concerning alternative means of income for owners, a strong support base is a fundamental tool to begin the process.
Now your awareness of the issue and support for this petition will be one step in the right direction to save these naturally-intelligent creatures from their torturous, empty lives.
Please use your voice for those who cannot.
If you want additional information about alternatives for these elephants and their owners, Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai (http://www.elephantnaturefoundation.org/) is a sanctuary using positive re-enforcement when working with tourists. They are also restoring over 100 acres of jungle directly adjacent to a large national forest for eventual reintroduction.