After shocking pictures served as a reminder of the torture the animals are subjected at some attractions in Thailand, tourists visit there have been urged not to ride the elephants. The images are believed to be taken in Phuket and posted to social media show the animals with blood dripping from their heads after keepers repeatedly hit them with sharp metal hooks.
The photos were accompanied by the message: “You can stop inhumanity tortured on elephants by stop riding an elephant!”
The widespread circulation shocked tourists and Thai travel authorities alike, who are now pleading with holidaymakers not to support the ride operators.
“‘Please don’t ride the elephants and don’t support this business. We never support tourists riding the elephants,” a spokesman from the Tourism Authority of Thailand said.
The travel authority added that the nation’s government agencies have been trying to combat the problem through a number of initiatives, including policy-making, supporting research on wildlife, rehabilitating injured animals, and eradicating the illegal wild animal trade.
World Animal Protection estimated that 3000 elephants are currently being used for entertainment throughout Asia, with 77 percents being inhumanely treated.
According to the Thai tourism authority, independent and government organisations, as well as individuals, have also made strides in their efforts to save the animals and preserve their habitat.
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn wrote in a recent blog post on the tourism board’s website : “The elephants presented a “special spiritual significance” with their deep associations with Buddhism and Hinduism. So, they must always be revered and well taken care of.”
According to Dr Patrapol Maneeorn, Wildlife Veterinarian of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, there are currently about 3500 wild elephants and 4500 domesticated elephants in Thailand. Wild elephants living in their natural habitat are classified as “wild animals” and protected by Thai law. However, Domesticated elephants are classified as working animals just like other livestock.
Dr Maneeorn said in a recent interview with the TAT : “The relevant Thai government agencies are planning to remove elephants from the Working Animal list and give them special protective status in the near future, which might include new regulations on how owners can take care of and treat them.”