Thailand calls for elephant-friendly tourism

Happy news for Elephantidae lovers and friends! Thailand’s Happy Elephant Care Valley is set to proceed on a milestone agreement in an evolution to become a truly elephant-friendly venue. This will result in end of all interaction between tourists and elephants at the camp, in order to gratify the mounting demand for responsible elephant experiences. This change at the camp will let tourists experience the elephants free to behave as they would in the wild; roam the valley, bath in mud, dust, water or feeding at a safe distance.

Till recently, the tourists had the opportunity for close communication with the elephants, being able to ride, bathe and feed elephants at the venue. The elephants at the valley were previously from farms and riding camps. The venue is being evolved by animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection in association with front-runners of the travel industry like TUI Group, Thomas Cook Group, G Adventures, The Travel Corporation, Intrepid Group, EXO Travel, and others.

Elephants are used for riding purposes in many locations across Thailand, which is being carried out after aching and forceful trainings. A global study by KANTAR last year indicated that the number of people who find elephant riding satisfactory has dropped to 44 per cent from 53 per cent in just three years. The study also observed that 8 out of 10 tourists love to see elephants in their natural environment, signifying elephant-friendly tourism are on the rise. The use of elephants for rides and other purposes halted when the travel industry alliance presented a business case demonstrating the upsurge of elephant-friendly tourism.

“With the support of the world’s leading travel companies, this agreement is a significant milestone for World Animal Protection. Happy Elephant Care Valley is a ground-breaking development for both elephants and tourists. It will show that high welfare venues for elephants can be commercially viable for elephant camp owners, encouraging them to value and care for their animals. It will be a very real example of an attraction where tourists can see elephants behaving naturally and freely as part of a herd. It will demonstrate that elephant-friendly experiences are possible, without forcing cruel interactions with people,” said Steve McIvor, CEO, World Animal Protection.