Tortured Ellies for Tourists - The Petition Site

Saturday, 25 April 2009
Tortured Ellies for Tourists - The Petition Site

The baby elephant is still nursing. But the men who savagely take her from her mother feel nothing for her. They drag the baby elephant kicking and screaming from her mother and put her in a cage exactly the same size as her body. Her legs are completely immobilized.
Next they proceed to beat her incessantly and gouge her with nails. This is the brutal practice of Phaajaan - the "breaking in of an elephant. This practice leaves baby elephants traumatized and badly injured, sometimes they even die from their wounds. Often up to 12 elephant handlers (or mahouts as they are called) work together to trap a baby elephant. In some instances the elephants are born in captivity and in others they are caught in the wild. Poachers often kill mother elephants when they are attempting to trap a baby - they do it because mother elephant will attack if you try harming her baby. It's relatively easy to trap a baby elephant born in captivity - they tend to trust humans. Villagers typically lure them closer with pieces of fruit and trap them with nooses made of thick ropes. As they struggle the nooses cut deeper and deeper into their skin. When the ritual of Phaajaan starts, there is usually an air of excitement and celebration in the village.
Villagers show up in droves to witness the spectacle that is about to take place.
The villagers start by tying more ropes and steel cables around the juvenile elephant legs, belly and feet. They even bind her tail. They show no mercy - her trunk and the sensitive skin between her toenails are beaten with clubs and punctured with nail-studded sticks. They proceed to insert sharp nails into her ear canals. The little elephant is exhausted by this relentless torture. She can no longer stand. She collapses against the sides of the cage, held in place only by ropes around her neck and belly. They jab her ribs - the pain sends her reeling upright for a brief moment wailing and then she collapses again. But the young pachyderm's torture is far from over. Next a village elder straddles her neck. He raises a long pointed blade attached to a stick spits on it and sinks it into her head - directly between her hears. He continues to jab it into her head - over and over again. (Later is discovered that she has lost her ability to hear).
Finally when dusk falls upon the village the beatings and piercing stop. However for the next few days she is denied water, food and sleep. The villagers take turns to beat her until they are convinced that her submission is complete. She has been broken in and will never resist or challenge a human being ever again. Phaajaan literally means 'to break the love between two', in this instance meaning to break the love between mother and baby. In Thailand roughly 3 800 of the country's 5000 endangered Asian elephants are in the hands of private owners. These animals are used as tourist attractions in elephant camps. They are 'trained' to perform circus tricks and give rides. Thailand's elephants are victims of the country's tourist industry. Each baby that is broken in and sold to one of Thailand's elephant camps can fetch a price of up to R50 000. As a result struggling villagers are more then willing to break in a baby elephant in order to feed their families. It is a vicious cycle. What is even more abhorrent is that these elephant camps display these young elephants under the guise of eco tourism.
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