More Thai operators drop elephant rides from tour package

The Asian Oasis, another Thai package tour operator, has announced that it will no longer provide elephant rides with all tour packages, citing its objection to cruel treatment animals in tourism.

© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons
© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

“By avoiding elephant rides and shows, we believe that both travellers and tour operators can show strong support towards the end of animal cruelty in tourism,” the company said on its website.

Asian Oasis has decided to discontinue all programmes that include elephant riding. “We are doing this because we believe these programmes in general add to the exploitation of elephants in Thailand.”

“It has always been my passion to sustain, protect and improve local culture and the environment through economic growth, education and employment opportunities. I believe that through our initiatives, the local communities will learn and understand that taking animals out of their natural habitat and using them for tourism purposes is neither kind to animals nor is it a sustainable activity that we support.” said Chananya Phataraprasit, Executive of Asian Oasis.

Any new booking of the tours will not include elephant rides. The elephant rides will still be provided for guests who have paid for tour packages with this tour activity.

The move followed similar announcements made by several European and major Nordic tour package operators that they will drop elephant rides from their itineraries in Thailand.

But some Thai elephant welfare activists cautioned that a sudden ban on elephant rides by foreign and Thai tour package operators could put working elephants and their keepers out of work, leading to more suffering to elephants. They said a more preferable approach to solving animal cruelty in tourism is to phase out such practice over time.

Tom Armstrong, Director of Experience Travel said: “Experience Travel supports the on-going efforts of Asian Oasis to improve their excellent range of experience-based travel offerings in Thailand. We give our full backing to their decision to stop using elephants in their programmes. We believe our clients will also appreciate and support this move and Asian Oasis’ wider commitment to fair, responsible and sustainable tourism.”

Mr Rachet Wapeetha, Development Manager, Lisu Lodge fully supports this decision as well, saying “After so many years of working in, and watching the tourism development in the Mae Tang area, I have become most concerned about the well-being of the elephants. I believe that elephants should be kept in their natural habitat and should not endure hardship for our pleasure. We welcome the news that we will be discontinuing activities involving elephants.

The Asian Oasis said on its website: “Because elephants are gentle by nature, we forget that they are meant to roam free in the wild. Trained elephants are captive elephants. Training them entails something akin to torture (e.g. deprivation of social contact, denial of food, living in confined area) at young age in order to tame them to force them to work for shows or treks. Elephants are intelligent animals with complex emotions and social bonds.”

“The process of controlling and training them can leave them traumatised, as well as unpredictable and aggressive. They do not breed well in captivity and due to poor living conditions they tend to die younger than wild elephants.”

Last year, Nordic tour operator Apollo stopped 11 out of 17 elephant tours in Thailand and India. The sudden halt is the result of Apollo’s cooperation with two animal welfare NGO’s in Thailand.

The tours instead offer program on their itineraries where tourists get to see the elephants in their natural environment. This is the first step in a long-term cooperation with World Animal Protection and a long-term initiative for Apollo to no longer offer tours where animals are made to suffer.

This exclusion of elephant rides came shortly after the welfare of the elephants on the popular elephant treks in Thailand have been debated in the Danish media. Apollo has created a new Code of Conduct in collaboration with World Animal Protection and CITES. In the press release Apollo states that the elephant tours are just the beginning and that all of their tours involving animals will be investigated further in 2015.

Source: The Asian Oasis



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