EWN launches tourism campaign


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Kathmandu, July 16, 2014 – ‘Planning an Elephant Jungle Safari? A Few Things You Know…’  With the support of a colourful brochure and poster, Elephant Watch Nepal launches a tourism awareness programme focusing on elephant safaris. The brochures are translated in English, Spanish, French and German.

A jungle safari on top of a majestic elephant seems an exotic adventure.  Behind the rides however, there are painful conditions that tourists are often unaware of. “With the help of the materials we alert tourists to the realities of elephant safaris and enable them to make informed choices,” says EWN representative Diana Argueta.

The brochure outlines some of the problems safari elephants face. “Despite their great social skills, outstanding intelligence and environmental and religious relevance, captive elephants in South Nepal lack access to nutritious food, consideration of their social nature, chain free enclosures and humane management,” the brochure reads.

The materials will be available online as well as at tourist hot spots.

Download the brochures in English, Spanish, French and German here.  The full text can be read here.

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EWN welcomes chain free initiative for private elephants

Srijana Kali

Srijana Kali with baby Samrat Gaj on chains in her shed

Kathmandu, July 10, 2014 – Elephant Watch Nepal welcomes a new initiative to unchain working elephants in and around Chitwan National Park. After unchaining 31 government elephants, Carol Buckley from Elephant Aid International designed a corral for elephants owned by Sapana Village Resort.

When mahout Mukti Chaudary unchained Srijana Kali on June 13, 2014, the tall mother elephant became the first private elephant in Nepal to be set free.  She was followed closely by her son Samrat Gaj when she left the small shed in which she was housed and explored the new enclosure. Mum and son were delighted to be walking around freely, to eat the greens and to sleep together on the grass, in between two tall trees.

The unchaining of working elephants is an important step in improving the conditions of these majestic animals.

Srijana kali off chains

Srijana Kali and her son explore the new enclosure (photo Carol Buckley)

Kudos to Sapana Village Resort, Carol Buckley, Himalayan Animal Trust and Animal Nepal for creating the first chain free for a private safari elephant!




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EWN supports campaign to stop elephant racing, soccer, pageant

PageantSauraha, 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.

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EWN gives kudos to Buckley and NTNC, Chitwan National Park

Chain free enclosureSauraha, December 12, 2013 – Elephant Watch Nepal gives kudos to Carol Buckley of Elephant Aid International and Nepal Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Chitwan National Park authorities for developing chain free enclosures for working elephants.

One can only imagine what 35-year old working elephant Man Kali experienced when her chains were removed for the first time after working hours. Man Kali and her two children were among the first working elephants in Asia to be rehabilitated in a chain free enclosure, where they can move at will and engage in natural behavior before and after working hours.

The enclosure is the outcome of a successful cooperation between the Nepal Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) and Carol Buckley, founder of Elephant Aid International.

Carol Buckley spent over four decades serving elephants: “What drew me to Nepal is the large number of elephants employed in the tourist industry, their poor level of care and high level of abuse,” says Buckley, who received a 2001 Genesis Award in recognition of her innovative work and was named a Hero for The Planet by Time magazine.

Now Buckley is all set to cooperate with Chitwan National Park authorities to build enclosures for the government’s 63 working elephants involved in anti poaching patrol and safari tourism.

Click here to read Lucia de Vries’ write up on this important first step to improve Nepal’s working elephants’ welfare conditions.

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Campaign to retire Pawankali launched

053Animal Nepal has launched a campaign to retire zoo elephant Pawankali. The loyal working elephant is now 65 and her eye sight is decreasing. Mr. Juddha Bahadur Gurung, Member Secretary of Nepal Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), promised to retire Pawankali.

Representatives from Animal Nepal handed over a letter to NTNC and the zoo earlier this month.

While in India working elephants retire at the age of 58, Nepal yet has to introduce welfare rules for jumbos. This despite the fact that over 200 working elephants are used to conduct safaris and anti poaching activities,

Pawankali started her life in Chitwan, where she worked with NTNC. At the age of 30 she arrived in the Central Zoo, where she is used for safaris and put on hire for functions. Pawankali served the zoo for 33 years. Although elephants are social animals, she lives alone and is chained when not working. Apart from a tin roof, she has no shelter.

In the letter, Animal Nepal writes: “Pawankali deserves to be retired, and to be allowed to live the remains of her days in comfort.” Animal Nepal urges the government to issue welfare standards and to open a retirement home for aging working animals.

Mr Gurung said his organisation is looking to retire Pawankali. Animal Nepal appreciates the decision by NTNC but strongly disagrees with replacing Pawankali with a younger elephant. “We urge you to follow the example of India and various other countries, and end the presence of elephants in the Central Zoo,” urges Animal Nepal.

The letter can be read here.

Sign this petition to end the presence of elephants in the Central Zoo.

Animal Nepal’s elephant campaign site can be viewed here.

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Kudos to Nepal government

Kathmandu, 28 December 2012 – AWNN today send a thank you letter to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to show its appreciation for the government’s decision not to kill Dhrube. AWNN yesterday organised a demonstration at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

In the letter AWNN urges the government to implement the Elephant Conservation Management Action Plan 2010. The goal of this plan is to save the elephants in the wild from extinction, immediately address habitat loss and mitigate associated people-elephant conflict.

Implementing the plan will help save the lives of  people and elephants alike and avoid future Dhrube’s from turning rogue.

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Take action to save Dhrube’s life!

DhrubePlease write a letter to the government of Nepal to save the life of Dhrube, a tusker who reportedly killed seven people in less than three months.

The authorities havve decided to kill him, and he has been shot at, but is walking around injured.
Conservationists says the elephant won’t harm anyone if he is allowed to cohabit with females. Read their comments here.
Please request the government to stop the hunt for Dhrube and find humane solutions to mend his behaviour. Also request the authorities to provide compensation for the victims’ families.
You will a sample letter here.
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Animal welfare groups deeply saddened by Dhrube’s fate

wild-elephant-nepalAnimal Wwlfare groups in Nepal have expressed their concern and sadness about the fate of Dhrube, a wild elephant which grabbed the headlines by killing over half a dozen people around Chitwan National Park (CNP) and prompting the locals to demand his death. The army has tried to kill the elephant, but failed so far, and an injured Dhrube is now possibly facing a slow and cruel death.

Animal welfare groups will be organising a demonstration to demand a halt to the killing of Dhrube and to find other options to solve his aggressiveness.

Animal Nepal wrote the following letter to the editors of Nepal’s newspapers:

Animal Nepal is deeply saddened by both the human deaths caused by Dhrube the elephant and his own agonising fate. Elephants are naturally docile animals that do not attack humans unless provoked. However, in a world where elephants are losing their habitat at an alarming rate, jumbos increasingly become violent. Research has shown that elephants, who are highly intelligent and self-aware, have excellent memories. Like humans, they can suffer from post traumatic stress disorder caused by any kind of aggression faced by them or their relatives. Decades of habitat loss have torn the fabric of elephant society, leading to further upheaval.  The authorities must now come up with a plan to reduce the human-elephant conflict. Dhrube’s aggression is a cry for help. The cycle of destruction should be stopped. Giving these majestic animals the space they need for their basic livelihood and reducing their stress levels are some important first steps.

More about the research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in elephants can be read here. 

Team for Nature and Wildlife (TNW)  requested the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) to capture and treat the “Dhrube”, a wild elephant without killing her as well as  provide compensation to the victims’ families.

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Kudos to TUI Holland

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.

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Peta, AWNN: Cruel training of elephant calves must end

Training calf4An undercover investigation by PETA India and Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) reveals that the training of elephants by the Nepalese authorities is cruel and that humane training methods -although introduced in the past- are hardly being implemented.

So-called elephant “joyrides” are anything but joyful for the elephants who are forced to give them. In reality the elephants are physically and emotionally abused every step of the way. The ritualized “training” sessions leave the elephants badly injured and traumatized
Watch this undercover video footage of elephant training at the government’s Sauraha based Elephant Breeding Center:
Punti is left injured and traumatized after training

When they are just 2 years old, baby elephants are torn away from their loving mothers and tied up out of reach. The frantic babies cry and struggle for days to reach their mothers, who are also tethered. Elephant calves are restrained during training for as long as 14 hours at a time with ropes that cause painful burns and with heavy chains.
Over and over again, calves are put through terrifying “desensitisation” sessions, in which trainers tie the elephants tightly to a pole, surround them, startle them with loud noises, hit them, prod them with sticks and wave flaming torches at them – often singeing the elephants’ skin.

Trainers routinely pierce the animals’ sensitive ears and yank on them with hooks in order to force elephants to walk a certain way. To control the elephants, restraints studded with iron nails, which dig into elephants’ skin and cause infections, are used on their feet. Barbed shackles are also frequently placed around the elephants’ legs during rides, with the other end of the shackles attached to the saddle so that riders can punish the elephants for any misstep. Trainers routinely beat elephants on the head with sticks to punish them for “mistakes,” leaving many elephants with open wounds.

A chain with iron nails poke into the calf’s skin

The Nepal government and tourism entrepreneurs need to understand that inhumane training will give Nepal’s safari industry a bad name and ultimately does not improve safety conditions. Evicence based humane training methods avoid trauma, improves the bond between animal and caretaker and leads to happy, confident and obedient working elephants .

The cruel training must end! We urge the government and industry to implement humane training methods, starting from the next training session!

Sign our petition demanding humane training for elephant twins Ram and Laxman here:

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