Fifty international elephant experts have urged the Nepal government to stop elephant abuse during Visit Nepal Year 2020. “Nepal should not endanger its reputation by continuing elephant smuggling, riding and games,” the experts say.
Fifty international elephant experts and campaigners in a letter to Forests and Environment Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet note that ‘although we respect Nepal’s age old traditions, we believe the tourism industry fails to respond to the needs of the elephant, a highly social and intelligent animal.’
The authors are concerned about the expansion of elephant safaris in Nepal. While most global travel agencies have omitted elephant rides and games from their itineraries, the government introduced elephant riding in Banke National Park this year. Elephant polo, ended by Tiger Tops in 2017, was reintroduced by Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) with the support of Nepal Tourism Board and Visit Nepal 2020.
The concerned experts argue that it is ‘not too late for Nepal to join the worldwide movement for better conditions for elephants: ‘2020 can still be a good year for animals, and a year in which tourism activities that tackle climate change, involve communities and are truly ‘green’ get promoted.’
Among the experts are representatives of Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Animal Welfare Institute USA, Born Free Foundation UK, Elephant Aid International USA, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, Kerulos Center for Nonviolence USA, Elephant Specialist Advisory Group South Africa, Humane Society International (USA/Nepal), Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) USA, WildlifeDirect Kenya and World Animal Protection International. From Nepal, representatives from Animal Nepal, Animal Rights Club and Elephant Watch Nepal support the plea.
The authors speak on behalf of ‘countless concerned tourists’ who share their experiences and concerns with them. “It is on behalf of them and the international community at large that we urge you… to promote responsible activities and events that support the welfare of Nepal’s endangered animals, and reflect the good intentions of the Nepalese nation,” the experts write.
According to the experts the government and tourism industry has been urged to introduce humane elephant tourism for decades.
Back in 2012, Animal Nepal released a study showing that the welfare of Sauraha-based captive elephants is greatly compromised.
Afterwards Nepalese entrepreneurs took an important step by introducing non-contact elephant tourism at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp. Elephants at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp live chain-free and are no longer used for elephant back safaris and elephant polo.
In 2018, World Animal Protection and Jane Goodall Institute released a viability study for ‘elephant ride-free community alternatives at Sauraha, Chitwan’. The study shows that a sustainable new business model and creating an elephant-friendly sanctuary is feasible.
Following the six years of campaign led by Animal Rights Club Nepal (ARC) against abusive activities in Chitwan Elephant Festival, ARC and PETA released a video in 2019 to aware people of the abuse of captive elephants in Sauraha, Chitwan for entertainment.
For more information:
Lucia de Vries, founder Animal Nepal, firstname.lastname@example.org, + 31 6 33018985
Carol Buckley, founder Elephant Aid International, email@example.com, +1 229-465-3115