Working elephants rise up, you have nothing to lose but your chains

First published by Nepali Times

Man Kali is a 35-year-old working elephant in Chitwan. She and her two off-spring, eight-year old Prakriti Kali and seven-month old Hem Gaj, recently became Nepal’s first working elephants to be rehabilitated in a chain-free pen.

The enclosure in Chitwan houses six elephants, ranging in age from seven months to over 70. All of the pachyderms here used to be chained with their front legs hobbled together, preventing natural posturing or healthy physical activity. The corral also had a fence that administered a mild electric shock upon contact. It has since been replaced with a solar-powered fence that transmits a clicking sound. The elephants naturally avoid the fence because their ears are so sensitive.

Continue reading

Get off that elephant back

First published by World Animal Protection

Exploring Nepal’s wilderness on the back of an elephant seems like a perfect way to spend the holidays. In bygone eras only aristocrats and kings had access to elephant safaris, mostly organized for hunting. Nowadays any tourist can afford to mount one of the 45 privately owned elephants in Sauraha, the main tourist hub of Chitwan National Park. After the jungle safari one can opt to bath the elephant in the river. With the jumbo splashing water on the tourists standing on its back, that seems a lot of fun too.

However, with mass tourism coming to the national parks, and the absence of welfare rules, the conditions of Nepal’s working elephants have severely deteriorated[1].

Continue reading