Elephants are not meant for riding. But before I elaborate on this topic, I want to relate an incident here related to my childhood. My mom used to tell me that when I was an infant I rode an elephant. But at that time I didn’t remember when I rode an elephant. So at that time as I was a kid and as we know kids are fond of animals, I used to cherish that I had an experience of riding an elephant(though I didn’t remember it).
Elephant being a huge animal is loved by everyone. At that time out of respect for this huge animal, I wanted to experience the elephant ride once again. Soon my wish was fulfilled and I got another chance to ride an elephant.
I still remember how I sat at top of the elephant on the chair attached to it. At that time I felt privileged to have got this opportunity to ride an elephant. I imagined myself as a very blessed person and even though that the elephant enjoyed giving rides to people.
But I was wrong to think that the elephants enjoyed giving rides. It is painful for them to give rides though they are built very strong. I enjoyed the ride as I didn’t know the pain the elephant went through. So now I regret riding an elephant and feel that elephant riding shouldn’t be on your bucket list. Here I will tell you why:
Nature has not made elephants to be ridden. Elephants have a unique spinal structure that is not meant for carrying heavy loads on their back. They have bony protrusions, extending upwards from the spine. Both the protrusions and the surrounding tissues get damaged from weight and pressure.
It is complicated by the chair (howdah) attached to their backs. (As a child when I rode an elephant and sat on the chair, I didn’t know how much I have harmed the animal unknowingly).
This arrangement made for the sitting of the riders rubs on their backs, causing blisters that can be infected. So elephants suffer severe spinal injuries as a result of it. Moreover, their feet get injured by continuously carrying the tourists for long treks.
Phajaan is a harmful training method adopted to train elephants. It is a cruel practice that elephants undergo in order to be tamed or domesticated. It is a form of animal cruelty. In it, young elephants are taken away from their mothers and confined to small places, tied with ropes to keep them in one place, their movement is so restricted that they can’t even raise their heads.
It is used to crush the spirit of the elephant. Not only this, they are abused with bullhooks and bamboo sticks spiked with nails, they are starved and deprived of sleep so that they can become submissive to humans.
Elephants are very social a lot like humans. They are very caring and sensitive. They have family and friends and live in herds. But when they are taken to these trekking camps, they are left alone and feel the pain and sorrow of being separated from their families.
Keeping all these things in mind, we should avoid riding an elephant. Don’t support the cruel organizations whose main motive is to earn a profit. If you love and care for them, learn this thing that animals are better in their natural habitat.