Field Report: Elephants Chained – a Sad Day in Nepal!

On October 19, 2017, my boyfriend and I arrived in Nepal anxious to see the wonderful wildlife in Shuklaphanta National Park. We arrived at the park the next day and had a generally successful trip spotting the wildlife as we saw a jackal, deer, crocodile, wild boar – and, yes, even a tiger!

As we drove back to Dhangadhi airport to catch our flight to Kathmandu about 11:00 a.m. on October 23, we saw a sight that would haunt us forever: Our guide announced that we would be stopping to “visit some elephants”. We saw three elephants with their front legs shackled so tightly, they couldn’t move! They couldn’t bend their knees, turn around or lay down at all. There were branches and leaves scattered in front of the elephants (we were told that was their “food”), but no water for them to drink anywhere in sight!

Elephant NepalThere were three elephants: two females and a male. The two females were chained next to each other and seemed resigned to their rotten situation, but the male was by himself and clearly distressed. Our guide kept telling us that he was angry and even the trainer had a hard time dealing with him. I said “Of course, he’s angry. When you keep him shackled to the point where he can’t even move his front legs, he has the right to be angry!”

“I am not a spiritual person at all, but I really did get a strong sense of communication from this poor boy. He kept reaching our his trunk to me and my boyfriend and it wasn’t in anger – he wanted to be touched and to let us know that he was clearly in distress. I swear, he was needing some human kindness from us and desperate to let us know he needed help!”

After both of us stroked his trunk. guides demanded that we stop touching the elephant for our own safety, so we moved back. One of our guides said to me “Ma’am, I know you love animals, but he is dangerous!”

While we were close enough to touch the last two feet of his trunk, he would have had a difficult time getting close enough to do any serious damage to us (maybe a hard slap or knocking us over, at worst, but nowhere near close enough to pick us up). But I honestly think he was smart enough to recognize that we were tourists and has probably experienced tourists providing him with food and affection, not as people that chain him or abuse him.

However, what really seemed to upset everyone there is that I kept asking about the shackles. And I was obviously taking photos of those shackles. This did not go over well with the elephants’ keepers, but I wanted answers about this inhumane situation.Our guides cut the visit short and we arrived at the airport very early that day.

Elephant ShacklesI vowed that I would not let this go until I know this situation was taken care of. If the keepers need to control these poor creatures, at least give them the dignity of shackling only one foot and giving them a long chain so that they can move around. And why was the male off to the side, away from the other elephants? They are social creatures and need companionship.

So I have been sending out the photos and information to every wildlife organization, elephant rescue and animal welfare group I can reach. I’ve posted this on my Facebook and Twitter pages (and the social media pages of others). I have posted a review on Trip Advisor. I will not stop until this awful wrong is stopped.

And for God’s sake, please give these poor animals some water!

This report comes to us from a tourist visiting Nepal during 2017. Please feel free to submit your own reports to:

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The Times They Are a-Changin’

When Bob Dylan wrote his seminal song “The Times They Are a-Changin’” back in 1964, he wanted to create an anthem for change. Not surprisingly, this song became the archetypal protest song for so many other movements – in addition to the successful anti-war movement of the ’60s.

Now we see the times changin’ for Nepal’s captive elephants, particularly in one of the most successful and prominent jungle resorts in the nation: Tiger Tops. Check out this new video to see how:

From about 1964 until just recently, Nepal’s captive elephants working in jungle resorts have been chained and abused, suffering under horrific conditions hidden from tourists. But now, at least one jungle resort has taken the high-road and offers a more humane way to interact with Nepal’s most magnificent creature.


circa. 1965: Bob Dylan @ London Zoo

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slowest now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one now will later be last
Cause the times they are a-changing

from The Times They Are a-Changin’ by Bob Dylan, 1964

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The Plight of Baby Elephants in Nepal

The plight of Samrat Gaj, a baby elephant at Sapana Village Lodge in Sauraha, Chitwan, draws the attention to the suffering of elephants born into the safari tourism industry in Nepal. Their abuse includes chaining, separation from the mother, cruel training, beatings and premature labour.

Born as a healthy calf on January 6, 2014, to mother Srijana Kali, Samrat Gaj was everyone’s darling at first. Successful births are rare among safari elephants, and Samrat seemed the happy exception. To enable the owner, Dhruba Giri, to unchain mother Srijana Kali and her calf, animal welfare organisations Himalayan Animal Trust and Animal Nepal supported with funds to build a chain free corral. The conditions were that the baby would be trained humanely, not work before the age of 13, and that the corral would be maintained.

When mother and baby were unchained and enabled to graze, scratch, play and sleep out in the open, and a humane trainer started his job, Samrat Gaj seemed to be one of the few elephants in captivity enjoying a happy childhood.

But that was about to change.

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Posted in abuse, chain free, Cruel training, Elephant Rides, Elephant Watch Nepal, Samrat Gaj, Sapana Village Lodge | Leave a comment

You don’t need to ride an elephant to enjoy one


Elephant buddies at Tiger Tops

Chitwan and elephant safaris seem to be synonyms. Most parents who bring their kids to to the jungle want to give them the experience of riding an elephant. So why do we oppose elephant rides? And is there an alternative? We recently visited Chitwan to find out.

It is early morning and we are moving through the jungle. We are far away from the busy touristy town of Sauraha (also known as Little Thamel). The luscious green buffer zone is filled with the sounds of birds and some barking deer. We are about to spot a male rhino, who is taking a bath in a mud pool close to the river.

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Bad News for Our African Friends


From the Great Elephant Census

A stunning post at Global Citizen posits “Elephants could be the next generation’s dinosaurs” and highlights the latest results from the Great Elephant Census. What that implies is that our children (and our children’s children) may only be able to see African Elephant bones & dioramas in natural history museums, instead of seeing them alive and roaming on the savanna.

“With only 352,271 left (excluding those that may live in Namibia, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic), elephants may become the next generation’s dinosaur — an extinct creature of wonder. In fact, it’s likely that hundreds more elephants have died since the census was completed.”

As lovers of dinosaurs past, this is not what we want to see in our future. What say you?


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Sri Lanka Also Brutal for the Asian Elephant

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Sri Lanka Elephant Abuse Video

This article from The Observer details how Sri Lanka’s elephants are often abused during buddhist festivals there.  From this report:

“Amateur videos showing elephants being abused by handlers during one of Sri Lanka’s biggest Buddhist festivals have recently emerged. This type of abuse is not new: our Observer, a veterinarian in Sri Lanka, says that elephant owners and authorities turn a blind eye to this type of behaviour for both financial and political reasons.”

This behavior is similar to what happens here in Nepal during Hindu festivals, where captive elephants are forced to behave contrary to their nature, and are housed adequately and kept chained by the leg when not “in use.”


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Elephant rides in Nepal have NOT improved despite claims, says EWN

Elephant Watch Nepal today issued a statement saying elephant riding in Nepal has not improved, despite claims by the industry. The statements responds to recent write ups promoting elephant safaris, claiming conditions are better here compared to Thailand and that the industry has improved conditions. In its statement EWN explains why elephant rides do not benefit conservation, nor the elephants, nor the country in general.



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