In a write up in The Kathmandu Post (The Other Side of The Story, TKP, 2 January 2010) Prateebha Tuladhar reported on abuse of elephants, bulls and horses taking place during the International Elephant Race and Jumbo Pageant. The event was organised by Nepal Tourism Board and the Elephant Management Committee from December 26-28 in Sauraha.
Tuladhar reports how bulls and horses were forced to race with heavy cards. Elephants were mercilessly beaten with ankush (goads) and that flecks of blood could be seen on the heads of the young racers. “How do we know that the scars on the elephants, the sad eyes of the bulls and the starved frames of the horses will go unnoticed?”, Tuladhar asks the reader.
We too are very concerned about the welfare of the elephants, bulls and horses involved in what are becoming frequent events in Nepal but what are universally known as ‘cruel sports’. Misusing elephants to attract more tourists is not only inhumane, it will also backfire as tourists increasingly chose responsible and animal friendly practices.
Dressing up elephants and forcing them to race and play polo or football, using methods such as hitting their sensitive parts with ankush, is something we strongly discourage. Already the Animal Welfare Network Nepal receives countless emails from tourists who are concerned about the training and management of captive elephants in Nepal. One tourist was shocked to find that calves at the government breeding center are trained by using inhumane methods including fire, loud noises and ankush. Merciless hitting with sharp tools, as took place during the recent event, will create an international outcry which will backfire on the whole industry.
We strongly advice the government and safari entrepreneurs to get their act together, increase the protection of elephants both in the wild and in captivity and set welfare standards with strict monitoring. If not Nepal will be internationally condemned for dishonoring the most majestic of its species: the Asian Elephant.