|Elephant population in southeast Asia Photo |
© Courtesy: Asian Elephant Specialist Group
Tools of the Trade Lead to Cruel Labor Practices
“I don’t enjoy seeing thousands of years of culture being reduced to a side show attraction.”
“I have seen elephants beaten, stressed, touted on the street, and exploited for monetary gain and human enjoyment,” she says.
“Tourists really love elephants and wanna be around elephants. It’s a big money maker,” says Sims.
With more awareness, there is a big shift, requiring elephants to be properly cared for. For this reason, Sims believes more ethical tourism industries have potential to help in the long run.
When it comes to trekking, riding behind the ears, without use of a Howdah saddle is considered moral.
A fully-grown elephant can carry approximately 350 pounds, but Howdah saddles alone can weigh up to 200 pounds. Regularly elephants are forced to carry more than one passenger in the saddle, resulting in a doubled capacity.
Sims knows respectful coexistence is necessary. “To live in harmony would be something I want to work towards,” she says. “Now is the time to take a stand for them.”
With about 20% of the world’s human population living near or inside Asian elephant range, dangers arise for both elephants and humans. Competition for contiguous living space has resulted in a huge loss of forest coverage and serious reduction of elephant numbers.
“Bad things can happen when man and nature are perceived as separate,” states Dettle.
|An Asian elephant enjoying a bath|
© Courtesy:World Wildlife Fund
Saengla—nicknamed “Mix”— moved to Cambodia in 2012. He recalls his past oblivion to unethical treatment of elephants, prior to working with them.
“When I worked at a park, my mind changed everything. I saw all of the elephants very happy. They can walk wherever they want and they don’t get abuse anymore.”