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Elephant Back Rides Banned in Botswana

By Rose C
Dec 20, 2016 06:59 AM EST
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African elephants at "imminent risk" of extinction

Elephant back safaris will no longer be operational in Botswana.

Abu Camp, the only facility which allows elephant back rides in the country, has been given orders to terminate its elephant back safari. Reports from IOL.com stated that the move was linked to a new government policy in accordance with the Minister of Environment TK Khama, to improve the welfare of elephants in captivity.

In support of the campaign Abu Camp declared in a press release, "Following an extensive review of its program and in compliance with recent government directives . . . as of 31 December 2016, Abu Camp will no longer allow guests to ride elephants."

Botswana is known in Africa to have the highest number of elephant population due to the given military protection against poachers. However, in late August of this year, the Great Elephant Census showed that around 144,000 animals were lost between 2007 and 2014 in 15 African countries, declining at a rate of 8% a year.

Elephant back rides have been famous to tourists who love the animals but according to the NGO World Animal Protection, the animals suffer intense physical and psychological pain.

In the late 1990s, the first commercial elephant rides in Africa began in Zimbabwe and soon spread throughout Southern Africa. In the region, there are now 39 commercial elephant venues, holding around 215 captive elephants. At least 25 of these offer elephant rides. Seven of them force elephants to do tricks for tourists. 

In a statement published by the Conservation Action Trust, the NGO-WAP noted that "the cruelty elephants endure during breaking stays with them throughout their lives and can leave them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. And after breaking there is no end to their suffering. This includes chaining and close confinement, loneliness, tight restraint with ropes or chains and isolation from other elephants and deprivation of food and water. Severe pain is often inflicted with pointed metal bull hooks, wooden battens, and whips."

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