Kudos to tour operator TUI Holland for saying no to elephant safaris and elephant bathing in Nepal. TUI Holland together with WWF in 2011 launched a campaign against elephant suffering in the tourism industry. Hoping to act as a role model, TUI decided to remove tourism activities involving elephants from its tours in Nepal and Thailand.
According to TUI representatives, tourists are generally happy with the alternative safaris, conducted by foot, canoe or jeep. Since elephant safaris tend to be overcrowded and noisy, travelling through the jungle by other means generally increases the chances of seeing wildlife such as rhinos, deer, or even tigers.
TUI in a press release argues that elephants undergo a cruel training programme in order to be prepared for their job. “The training often includes intense physical and mental abuse. The elephant for instance is starved or being hurt in sensitive places such as the trunk or ears.”
According to TUI, during safaris the elephants generally carry a number of people: “The saddle and weight of the people create injuries and lead to overloading. Elephants can pull as much as one thousand kilos but are unable to carry such weights on their backs. Between rides they are generally chained up and unable to move even an inch.”
The company also decided to provide grants to the Thailand based charities Elephant Nature Park and Bring the Elephant Home Thailand.