The plight of Thailand’s many elephants has made plenty of headlines since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in January, especially in the North, where the many elephant camps and “sanctuaries” were the a major draw for tourist revenue until the Emergency Decree and travel ban forced many to close. To avoid starvation, thousands made the long journey back to their home villages, where their arrival often caused more problems.
Now, footage of an abused baby elephant being jabbed by bullhooks – long metal rods with sharpened tips – to tame it before forcing it to join the tourist industry has been released by conservationists, in a bid to end the practice. The footage, taken on a hidden camera last year and published yesterday by UK-based animal rights group World Animal Protection, shows what they say is the forced separation of a 2 year old female elephant from her mother.
The distraught, disoriented calf can be seen confined to a small space known as the “crush box,” and held by chains and ropes for days as she struggles to escape. Calves are jabbed with bullhooks to get them to understand basic commands, sometimes drawing blood.
About 3,000 domesticated elephants worked in Thailand’s tourism sector, used for rides and performing tricks for travellers. Animal rights activists have long argued that elephants endure abuse in the tourism industry, starting with the so-called “crush” process to tame them when they’re young. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, a wildlife veterinarian with WAP, told AFP:
“We need to ensure that this is the last generation of elephants used for commercial tourism,”
WAP has not released details of the location of the camp to avoid repercussions for the people who took the video. But Thailand’s plans to relax some travel restrictions in the coming weeks, if the virus remains contained, have conservationists fearing the return of “the crush.”
SOURCE: Bangkok Post | AFP
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