Home WORLD Heartbreaking Video Reveals The Dark Side Behind Elephant Tourism

Heartbreaking Video Reveals The Dark Side Behind Elephant Tourism

Elephants are being exploited to entertain tourists in south-east Asia, and kept in harsh conditions, says a new report from an animal rights NGO.Elephants are trained by a process called phajaan — it means “the crush.” The purpose is simple: to break the independent spirit of an elephant so they obey human commands. It’s deeply and permanently traumatizing.

image/text credit: circa

The majority of captive elephants are taken from the wild, where just 50,000 remain in Asia. Animal rights groups say elephants are made to submit to humans by going through a process known as “the crush” – where baby elephants are taken from their mothers and forced into a training process that, at its worst, can include being restrained in a pen and beaten for several weeks.

image/text credit: circa

Most tourists in Southeast Asia are not aware of this when they sign up for elephant trekking or short rides. But there are more ethical ways to enjoy elephants in the region — and one of them is Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

image credt: World Animal Protection

Other elephants have more obvious injuries. Kabu broke her leg in a logging accident, and it healed poorly. ENP is also home to 16 blind elephants, all from injuries sustained during their time in captivity.


Thailand, for its part, has passed animal welfare bills before. But animal advocates like Lek say the problem comes down to enforcement: There isn’t any — not yet.

Elephant tourism is still one of the biggest draws for tourists. And until tourists get wise to the issue, it will probably never go away.