What Years of Tourist’s Rides Do to An Elephant
Written by Pheodora Waqanibaravi on March 11, 2023
Elephants may be known for their size and strength, but tourists who ride on their backs can still do great harm, as this photo shared by a wildlife rescue group in Thailand shows. The picture provided by the Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand (WFFT) depicts Pai Lin, a 71-year-old female whose spine has become disfigured after 25 years of working in the tourism industry, where she was forced to carry up to six tourists at a time. “Pai Lin’s back still bears scars from old pressure points,” the group said. “This continuous pressure on (elephants’) bodies can deteriorate the tissue and bones on their back, causing irreversible physical damage to their spines.” Elephant rides are a popular tourist activity in countries across Southeast Asia, but activists say the practice is a form of animal cruelty as their bodies are not designed to be ridden. They say the animals are also often abused and exploited in other industries like trekking and logging, with many dying from exhaustion and malnutrition as they are literally worked to death.