Media Statement: Issued On Monday 06 JUNE 2016

Elephant Riding – Pressure Leads To Change Of Attitude And Approach

The National Council of SPCAs believes that our years of advocacy, investigation and placing before the public the truth behind elephant rides or elephant-back safaris is now being rewarded through public awareness, pressure and impact.

Camp Jabulani in Hoedspruit has announced that from April 2017 it will no longer offer elephant riding to tourists but will rather promote the viewing of elephants in their natural state and environment.

Manager of the NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit, Inspector Isabel Wentzel, believes that factors influencing tourists especially from overseas, tour operators and public opinion generally include the NSPCA exposé of cruel, inhumane and totally unacceptable training methods in South Africa.

“Until we published photographs and irrefutable evidence that this was happening in our own country, there was a misunderstanding. It was generally thought that such methods were only used in Asia. Not so. From then on there was a ripple effect and a general reaction against elephant riding which continues and the consequences are now being felt by the industries who operate them.”

Camp Jabulani has moved from its stated position in a previous promotional brochure that there is no better or more intimate interaction with an African elephant than riding on the back of one. This at a cost of R2 150.00 per person.

Tour operators including Thompson Safaris will no longer bring tourists to reserves where elephant-back safaris take place.

This appears to be a general movement against elephant riding as it is now commonplace that tour operators determine whether such activities take place before making bookings.

“Money talks. When bookings are lost on ethical grounds because of people’s recognition that an activity is simply not acceptable, change does occur. We know that other facilities offering elephant riding are being adversely affected.”

The NSPCA policy is that wild animals belong in the wild. Travel publications and airline magazines were approached to explain that there is no quick, easy or humane way to “train” elephants to accept humans riding them – nor to “tame” wild elephants often forcibly removed from their herds, in itself inhumane and unacceptable.

We shall remain steadfast on this issue and will continue to motivate ethical tourism and humane practices. Sincere appreciation goes out to everyone who has supported our stance and has demonstrated that cruel practices will not be supported. Caring people are being heard and can certainly make a difference.


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