Tusk Tusk or Deplorable Acts Against Elephants : Poaching or Cruelty

Wildlife Photographer Vows to Never Return to Wildlife Park in India After Witnessing Horrific Elephant Abuse : Hearing Squeals From Tortured Elephants That “Put a Shiver Down My Spine”

Location of abused elephants: Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India

Indian Elephants Abused by:

  • “Whippings… and beatings### with 5 foot bamboo canes” leaving the pachyderms ‘screaming in agony’.
  • Starvation & Confinement: Skeletal* baby elephants either chained or placed in cages to detain them.
  • Elephants being forced to give rides** to humans. Mahouts allowing as many as 6 adults upon the elephant’s back; this in addition to the enormous weight of the metal chair contraption digging into their flesh.

* One of the signs of elephant abuse, for a captive working elephant especially, is an emaciated appearance. Having been through “the crush” or phajaan elephants learn to fear their human captors in a very short period of time.  Little elephants are starved and beaten to show them who is boss (and it is never the elephant). 

**These elephant rides are the mainstay of the ” ‘tiger tour,’ the star attraction of the Bandhavgarh”. Your hosts at the Bandhavgarh National Park encourage the “elephant safari

as the ultimate experience of a lifetime to scout their tigers of which the Bandhavgarh is most famously known. What they fail to mention are the beatings and the suffering the elephants are enduring in order to break their elephant spirits in order to transform these wild animals into a motor car.

The irony is that “despite how it’s sold to travellers, riding elephants is not part of Thai culture – it was developed in response to tourist demand.”

Therefore, as tourists and travelers, it is up to us to help our elephants and to stop the abuse of our elephants.

Please do not visit wildlife parks such as the Bandhavgarh National Park UNTIL they abolish the following:

  • the practice keeping elephants confined & in chains.
  • the practice of beating, whipping and starving elephants for any reason.  (This elephant abuse is almost always hidden from the public.)
  • the practice of using wild elephants for human entertainment by offering elephant rides, known at  the Bandhavgarh National Park as “elephant safaris”. 

A recent visitor to the Bandhavgarh National Park concurs: Having mentioned how breathtakingly beautiful the park is they cannot forget the “dreadful chained elephants” and how “the sadness of the elephants cast a shadow over” it all.

“…It is wrong to have elephants chained so tightly that they can hardly move in any situation, but given that this is a wildlife park/haven, it seems all the more incredible that this is being allowed.”

Image: CC Flickr by jmdaggett : chained elephants at Bandhavgarh National Park notice the bamboo cane used for elephant whippings

Norman Watson, a wildlife photographer from Aberdeen, Scotland  has strong words for the elephant handlers at the Bandhavgarh National Park.  He wrote on Facebook: ” ‘They should be banned from keeping any kind of animal and certainly not elephants, given other roles in the reserve that doesn’t cause animal abuse.  Elephants shouldn’t be taken from the wild or ridden by people. They should be given protection throughout Asia.’ ” (also see post of 16 June 2019 ) He was referring to what he witnessed on his recent trip to India to photograph Bandhavgarh’s famous tigers.

###Watson (and his group of friends) observed several episodes of elephant beatings that were so intense and cruel that the squeals from the pachyderms “put a shiver down my spine“. And despite the group’s collective pleas to the Mahouts (to stop the beatings) the elephant abuse at the Bandhavgarh National Park never stopped.

One episode witnessed by Watson involved two adolescent elephants who were chained so tightly together that each elephant had to “hop” to move around.  While being violently whipped with a bamboo pole one of the elephants began trumpeting loudly, desperately trying to avoid more pain. (Now you have hopping and wailing elephants.)

Trying to put an end to the nonsense the Mahouts then began hustling  both elephants to the ground (using a method of elephant tail pulling and behind-the-ear jabbing with a sharp elephant torture device, known as the bullhook). They then begin another beating-the-elephants-into-submission round. Where is the benevolence in these Mahouts, these elephant handling men?

Image : CC Flickr by tim ellis : mahout on safari elephant at
Bandhavgarh National Park, notice the bull hook in his hand.

As elephant advocates and elephant activists we must join together with wildlife photographer, Norman Watson,  who witnessed the horrific abuse of our elephants firsthand. He wrote:  ” ‘India was a great place, friendly people but I’ll not return to Bandhavgarh until this abuse has stopped. Only people power can change wildlife abuse and animal cruelty!‘”   (also see post of 16 June 2019 )

Images: For photos by Scottish wildlife photographer, Norman Watson, see article “Horrified Wildlife Photographer…” at The Daily Mail. The photos included in this article of elephants in Bandhavgarh National Park are from Creative Commons Flickr:

Image: CC Flickr by Danielle Colombo elephant safari at Bandhavgarh National Park

Resource: “Horrified wildlife photographer, 47, says he saw ‘elephants screaming in agony’ as guides whipped them with bamboo canes at a wildlife reserve in India” by William Cole for Mailonline / The Daily Mail                                      

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  1. Pingback: Sign the Petition to #RefusetoRide Elephants & Learn Why Unimaginable Cruelty Exists in the Elephant Riding Industry in This Pictorial Essay | Elephant Spoken Here

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