For many people, riding on the back of an elephant in Thailand is a dream and an ultimate experience. However, there is now overwhelming evidence to support claims by animal welfare experts that this form of tourism is not only unsustainable, but ultimately harmful for Asia’s gentle giants.
You can barley turn a corner in Thailand without seeing a billboard touting elephant rides or shows, but yet, the nation has yet to implement laws to protect its captive elephant population. Unknown to many travelers, newly captive and captive-born Asian elephants are traditionally subject to systematic abuse in order to “train” them to accept riders and perform shows.
Thailand’s elephant “problem” is a complex issue. However, what we need are solutions for the problem. We cannot simply “stop” elephant tourism, but we can implement change and promote responsible tourism.
This is why we, at the Silver Cliff Resort, only promote elephant trekking, which incorporates the shortest hike, around 30 minutes, with bathing the elephant in the river. This allows guests to experience “getting closer” to the elephant, with the least stress impact as possible for the elephant. Choosing a responsible tour operator will allow guest to interact and support elephants in Thailand, while solutions are sought.