Sauraha, December 12, 2013 – Elephant Watch Nepal supports a campaign by Animal Rights Club to stop elephant abuse at the annual Sauraha Elephant Festival. During the festival, held in the last week of December, trained private elephants are made to race, play soccer and appear in a beauty pageant.
The annual December festival aims to promote tourism and conservation awareness. The organisers (Hotel Association of Sauraha, Chitwan National Park and Nepal Tourism Board) plan to build a stadium for the games.
While across the world awareness about the uniqueness of elephants in increasing and measures are taken to remove these majestic animals from zoos, circuses and games, Sauraha’s working elephants are trained to play human games and are dressed up, complete with make up, to appear in a beauty pageant.
Although the cruel ankush (a metal hook) is banned during the games, the training is a demanding and often cruel one, and can leave elephants wounded and traumatised.
Elephants are an endangered species in Nepal and face severe habitat loss. These games do not promote their conservation but in fact promote their use as a toy for human entertainment.
EWN urges the organisers to discontinue the games and instead attract tourists by creating spaces and events that promote the natural behaviour of elephants.