RIding on elephants is a popular tourist activity – but its starting to come under fire as people realise that the practice is harmful to the elephants (both in terms of giving rides – and the ‘training’ they must undertake beforehand). This excellent article from our friend Charlieontravel talks about the problem in Vietnam.
Riding elephants and elephant trekking is inhumane. Many tourists want to ride an elephant in Vietnam, but it can cause permanant damage to their spines.
I remember a few years ago, a friend told me about how she rode an elephant in Thailand. Until she said it, it hadn’t really occurred to me that riding an elephant was a popular activity. I asked her whether that was humane, and she said she didn’t know, but that it was a once in a lifetime experience, so she had to do it.
It’s not an experience that I ever wanted to have, even before I heard the horrific stories about the suffering of domesticated elephants. However, I had always wanted to see an elephant, even if it was just from a distance. Until last year, I’d not had the opportunity. I don’t like to visit zoos and I’d never been travelling in a country inhabited by elephants. Vietnam changed that.
When we were in Vietnam, Luke and I took a bus inland, off of the backpacking loop, to Buon Ma Thuot. From there, we took another bus to Ban Don, a small village near to Yok Don National Park, where we planned to go trekking. I knew there were elephants in the area, but I hadn’t thought that I would actually see them. Luke, on the other hand, was a little wiser from his previous travels in Thailand and Laos.
When we got off the bus to find the stilt house we were staying in, I couldn’t believe it: there was a huge elephant right there. It was standing right next to the dirt track road and the row of stilt houses. I immediately walked around the corner and realised there were actually four elephants standing there.
I was in awe, they were so magnificent. But then, I started to see other things… I realised their feet were chained to trees, they couldn’t move in the tiny, dusty circle they shared and they had metal chairs strapped to their backs. They were prisoners.
Read the rest of this article at the link above.
Search ‘elephant’ on this blog for more stories about elephant trekking, and ‘Vietnam’ for more stories on that country.
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