More than half a million people have demanded that TripAdvisor stop profiting from the cruelest wildlife attractions across the globe
The appalling cruelty inflicted on Indian elephants to meet growing demands from the tourism industry for elephant rides and shows has now got the attention of the Indian government – who might shortly take a huge step to end elephant rides in popular tourist destinations in Goa and Rajasthan this year.
Most tourists go on elephant rides because they love elephants. They don’t know about the intense physical and psychological pain involved. Baby elephants are cruelly taken from their mothers, and beaten into submission to give rides and perform tricks for tourists. They endure horrendous captive conditions for decades. This includes chaining and close confinement, loneliness and isolation from other elephants – with whom they would naturally form bonds – and deprivation of food and water.
World Animal Protection continues to expose the abuse being inflicted on hundreds of these magnificent animals in India and highlight how tourists and travel companies such as TripAdvisor can stop tourist rides in their tracks before it’s too late.
If left unchecked thousands of elephants in India and across the world will face lifetimes of cruelty and abuse for tourist entertainment. The once in a lifetime opportunity of riding an elephant can mean a lifetime of misery for it – if you can ride it, hug it or have a selfie with it, the chances are it’s cruel for the wild animals, so don’t do it.
Filming at Amber Fort in Rajasthan
Amber Fort, also known as Amer Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan is one of India’s major tourist hotspots offering elephant rides to people visiting. The fort has an estimated 5,000 people visiting and taking rides from one of the 114 elephants trained to carry tourists up steep roads in blistering heat.
The welfare concerns at Amber Fort:
• Elephants used for entertainment in their early years suffer an extremely cruel and intensive breaking-in process. This is done so they can be used to perform and be ridden for tourist entertainment. This process involves severe restraining with ropes or chains and the elephant can only move when commanded. Severe pain is often inflicted with pointed metal bull hooks, wooden battens, and whips.
• 90% of elephants at Amber Fort had one or more problems with their foot pad, abscesses on their eyes and severe wounds from the seat on their back.
• The elephants are not fed properly with a natural diet. Instead they are given chapatti (roasted bread made of wheat) and sugar cane– too much of this is bad for them.
• 68% of elephants were reported to have insufficient or non-existent provision for water.
Day in the life of an elephant at Amber Fort:
• Elephants used for rides are chained up in small stables, by trees or in private houses.
• There’s no possibility for the elephants – highly intelligent and social animals – to interact with other elephants. They are kept in confinement and there is no prospect of free movement after a gruelling day of carrying tourists on their backs.
• Elephants are taken out in the mornings to offer rides to tourists and their first port of call is to descend through chaotic road traffic in Jaipur.
• They are equipped with riding benches on their backs and adorned with garments, blankets and head covers in extreme heat.
• Once tourists are on their backs, elephants make an exhausting walk up a steep hill to the Amber Fort palace.
• Also accompanying the elephant is a mahout, sat on the elephant’s neck, guiding it with a bull hook and ready to beat it at the top of its head to direct the elephant.
This is an unnatural way of life for elephants because wild animals belong in the wild. For example, female elephants are highly social, living in matriarch-led family groups which can consist of up to 20 females and sub-adults. Males travel alone visiting matriarchal herds or form temporary social groups with other males. This is very different to the life they have held in captivity.
Images and video
• World Animal Protection can provide images and footage from Amber Fort to help paint the picture of the day in the life of an elephant. There is also an opportunity to film there.
Interviews with wildlife experts
• Julie Middelkoop, World Animal Protection Head of Wildlife Not Entertainers
• Shubhobroto Ghosh, World Animal Protection Wildlife Project Manager in India
• Gajender K Sharma, Country Director, World Animal Protection in India
World Animal Protection has secured 108 global travel companies to no longer offer visits to venues with elephant rides and shows in any of their markets. Among these are popular brands from across the world, like World Expeditions and Kuoni Travel UK.
The cruelty endured by elephants and other wild animals at tourist attractions is gaining attention amongst the public, as well as the travel industry. Despite this large number, there are still a number of travel companies who are yet to commit to ending elephant rides and other cruel elephant entertainment, such as TripAdvisor.
Call to Action
World Animal Protection has a long history of campaigning to end the use of wild animals for entertainment. We ended bear dancing in India, Turkey and Greece by working over a decade with local partners and government officials.
Over the past four years we’ve engaged travel companies across the world and 108 have committed to no longer sell and promote elephant rides and shows to their customers. World Animal Protection will continue to expose the suffering of wild animals in entertainment and look to educate the 4m tourists who will visit wildlife tourist attractions every year.
We now want TripAdvisor, the largest online travel website, to recognize the huge opportunity to help protect the 550,000 wild animals suffering at the hands of irresponsible tourist venues. With 300 million web hits per month their influence is immense, they need to put that to good use and do what is right for wild animals.
Over half a million people have signed our petition, join the movement: http://www.worldanimalprotection.org.uk
Facts about Elephant Riding
• There are simply no responsible elephant rides or shows. Elephants are not domesticated. They are wild animals in captivity that need to be tamed and trained in order to be ‘safely’ used for rides and shows.
• All elephants used for riding and performing need to be ‘broken’ at a young age in order to accept human control. By the time you come to ride an elephant, it may look at peace; but this is because its spirit has been broken.
• The breaking-in process of elephants for any type of activities that require direct contact with people (like rides or performances) requires severe physical and psychological abuse. Furthermore, their physical well-being is forever damaged by the jobs they are forced to do.
• Keeping elephants for tourism damages their conservation status. Reproduction rates of elephants in captivity are extremely low and do not meet the demand for new elephants in the tourism industry. Consequently, elephants are poached from the wild to fuel tourist entertainment. This is considered a major threat to the wild Asian elephant population, which has declined dramatically over the last century, also because of habitat loss.
• The animals that are now used in these venues are old working animals and also captured from the wild or bred in captivity to spend their lives in chains. Across Asia it is estimated that as many as 75% of the adult elephants, used for tourist rides today, have been wild caught, although the number is difficult to validate.
• Many tourists see elephant rides as the highlight of their holiday. However, this wish often stems from a lack of awareness of the abuse involved. As soon as they become aware of the suffering caused by elephant rides and shows, their enthusiasm quickly wanes.
Green Weddings Trend: Why 70% of Newlyweds Are Going Green
A couple of months ago, my best friend got married to her new husband. They are both very eco-conscious people, so they decided to have a unique twist on their wedding. They asked for the following:
- They arranged a carpool with their friends.
- They didn’t have any balloons. Instead they used umbrellas.
- They used plant materials instead of plastic confetti.
- My friend insisted her husband not purchase a diamond. In addition to being ecologically conscious, she didn’t like the idea of having a stone that was used in conflict zones.
My friends aren’t the only ones making these changes. In fact, nearly a quarter of all newlyweds are organizing green weddings.
Green Weddings Are Becoming the Norm
People are more concerned about green living than ever before. They are trying to incorporate environmental protectionist ideas into every facet of their lives, even the most intimate, such as marriage. A growing number of people are trying to have green weddings, which can make a big difference in reducing their carbon footprint.
How much of a difference can this make? Here are some statistics to bear in mind:
- The Center for Disease Control reports that about two million marriages are formed every year.
- Approximately 70% of all marriages have green elements today.
- This means that 1.4 million marriages are green.
There are a number ofreasons that green weddings are becoming more important. Here are a few.
People Are More Worried About Environmental Preservation than Ever Before
Green living in general is becoming a greater concern for most people. Even younger conservatives are breaking from their older counterparts by insisting on fighting climate change. According to a poll from Pew Research earlier this year, 75% of Americans say that they are very concerned about protecting the environment. Having green weddings is a good way to act on this concern.
One of the biggest changes people are making is using recycled products for their green weddings. This is explained by the research from Pew:
“Overall, 32% of U.S. adults say they are bothered a lot by people throwing away things that could be recycled. Roughly six-in-ten Americans (61%) who say they always try to live in ways that protect the environment say it bothers them “a lot” when others throw away things that could be recycled. Among those who are less focused on environmental protection, only a quarter say it bothers them a lot when others don’t recycle. People who are environmentally conscious are also twice as likely as others to say that seeing someone incorrectly putting trash in recycling bins bothers them a lot (42% vs. 21%).”
Indifferent Politicians Are Driving them to Take More Initiative
Many politicians in power have been very hesitant to take action on climate change. Many of them have openly stated that it is a hoax. These politicians are forcing people to do what they can in their own lives to make a difference. Making small changes, such as hosting green weddings, is a great way to improve the environment without waiting for political momentum.
Cost and Simplicity
A couple of the biggest reasons that people want to host green weddings have nothing to do with their concern for the environment. Running green weddings is simply cheaper and simpler than having a massive, traditional one. One of the biggest changes is that they are buying green engagement rings from the best brands.
Green Weddings Are the Future
Green weddings have become very popular over the past few years. They will probably account for close to 90% of all marriages by 2025. People that are planning to get married should look into the benefits and plan accordingly.
Green Tech Start-Ups: Are they the Future?
Endless innovations are occurring in green companies, reinventing the industries they belong to. Gradually, they are beginning to amass more success and popularity. Consequently, these factors serve as a good indicator for green technology businesses, and their development must begin somewhere.
Green tech start-ups boast a wide array of opportunities for the economy and environment, while boosting recruitment openings with valuable services. While the technology industry is littered with high revenues and competition, the green tech start-ups are the clear sign of a cleaner future.
Fulfilling a Genuine Need
Many tech companies will market themselves as the ultimate tech giants to shift stock and make profit. As they all vie for attention through warped corporate rhetoric, there is only one ethical winner; the start-up green tech company.
Some argue that mainstream tech businesses have grown far too big, branching out into other industries and standing between the consumer and practically everything they do. However, green tech start-ups go beyond the shallow ambitions of a company, answering a call to sincerely help the customer and climate in any way they can. Of course, this is an attractive business model, putting customers at ease as they contribute to a humanitarian cause that is genuine through and through.
After all, empathy is a striking trait to have in business, and green tech start-ups maintain this composure by their very nature and purpose.
Despite the pursuits for clean energy still needing more awareness, green tech is an area that is ripe for contribution and expansion. There’s no need to copy another company or be a business of cheap knockoffs; green tech start-ups can add a new voice to the economy by being fresh, fearless and entrepreneurial.
Technology is at its most useful when it breaks new ground, an awe that eco-friendly innovations have by default in their operations. Of course, green tech start-ups have the chance to build on this foundation and create harmony instead of climate crisis. Ultimately, the tech advancements are what revolutionise clean energy as more than an activist niche, putting theory into practice.
Despite the US gradually becoming more disengaged with green technology, others such as China and Canada recognise the potential in green technology for creating jobs and growth in their respective economies. The slack of others spurs them on, which creates a constant influx of prospects for the green tech sector. Put simply, their services are always required, able to thrive from country to country.
A Fundamental Foresight
Mainstream technology can seem repetitive and dull, tinkering with what has come before rather than turning tech on its head. Since 2011, technology has been accused of stagnation, something which the internet and petty app services seem to disguise in short reaching ideas of creativity.
However, green tech start-ups aren’t just winging it, and operate with a roadmap of climate change in the years ahead to strategize accordingly. In other words, they aren’t simply looking to make a quick profit by sticking to a trend, but have the long-term future in mind. Consequently, the green tech start-up will be there from the very start, building up from the foundational level to only grow as more and more people inevitably go green.
They can additionally forecast their finances too, with the ability to access online platforms despite the differing levels of experience, keeping them in the loop. Consequently, with an eye for the future, green tech startups are the ones who will eventually usher in the new era.
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