"Humans and elephants have shared environments for thousands of years,
but what might surprise readers is that a quarter of the world’s Asian
elephants live in captivity.
These elephants are a vital and vibrant part of Nepal’s history, and
their use has been documented since at least the fifth century in areas
as diverse as war machines, living monuments to regal power and wealth,
rewards for service and currently as tourist transport.
Elephant tourism has become a major financial windfall for businessmen
in the Chitwan National Park area, and photos of elephants on the
streets of Sauraha have become synonymous with the location. Visitors to
the area often mention their desire to ‘see elephants’ in both the wild
and in captive settings. Tourism vendors must keep up the appearance of
happy animals in idyllic settings in order to maintain a steady flow of
However, there is no ‘sound science’ supporting elephant-backed tourism
as indicated in a Nepali Times article of 4 October, 2020, and no animal
welfare studies that provide data that shows anything but substandard
conditions in the majority of stables within the area.
Waxing poetic about grand experiences on elephant-back does not change
the data. In fact, I have spent the last four years as a rhino and
elephant researcher in Nepal, and have just completed an assessment of
not only the stables in Chitwan, but an overall review of captive
elephant health and welfare throughout the US, UK and Asia."
Via Glyn Moody, who wrote "Nepal must tackle this abuse of elephants"
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics