The TreadRight Foundation works to safeguard people, wildlife and the planet for future generations. What started in a humble hotel and restaurant in South Africa has now grown to a global organisation helping to promote sustainable tourism. Their mission is to have a positive impact on the people, communities and environment of places visited by us, travellers. To date, The TreadRight Foundation has supported over 50 sustainable tourism projects worldwide.
TreadRight has released a new video (below) in cooperation with Wildlife SOS – a wildlife protection agency based in India. TreadRight brought together a dynamic group of storytellers on an educational journey into India. Their goal: to learn about Wildlife SOS’s work to save elephants. Their #RefuseToRide campaign works to stomp out negligent and abusive behaviour towards elephants.
Whilst most travellers yearn for the chance to ride one of these magnificent creatures many are unaware of the trauma these animals go through so that they can be “tamed.” As babies they are poached from the wild, isolated from other elephants and continuously beaten until they obey humans out of total fear. There’s even a word for this practice: phajaan, which means “breaking of the spirit”. After their spirits are broken, they spend the rest of their lives performing laborious and tedious labour with scarce access to good food, fresh waters, veterinary care and the company of other elephants.
“The never-ending demand from tourists for animal sports and entertainment is keeping this grotesque industry alive. If tourists stop riding elephants, elephant abuse and exploitation will automatically end. As long as there are huge profits to be made by exploiting these animals, the abuse and exploitation of the animals in the tourism and entertainment industry will persist,” says Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS.
As much of this is illegal by Indian Law, Wildlife SOS is petitioning governmental authorities to help join the fight.
Whilst for many, seeing such a large and gentle giant up close is the major drawing card of these abusive tourism factions, looking closely will revealed the decades of pain and suffering required for a tourist experience. Riding an elephant may seem as harmless due to its large size but under the surface is a alternate brutal world.