For the last 20 years, an elephant named Lasah has been nothing more than a prop to humankind. From hauling logs to being gawked at in zoos to performing in shows and commercials, Lasah hasn’t had it easy. Now, he is at Langkawi Elephant Adventures (LEA) where he’s been giving rides to tourists for the last decade. But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that is particularly tragic.
Recently, photos uncovered by Friends of the Orangutan (FOTO), show what kind of life Lasah leads when he is out of the public eye and, unfortunately, it’s not a happy one.
Life at Langkawi
At 36 years old, this Malaysian elephant should enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Instead, he spends his days giving rides to tourists for hours in the sweltering heat. And to make it worse, Lasah doesn’t even get to lie down after a hard day’s work. He’s ushered into his barren enclosure and chained on all four legs so that he can barely move, let alone lie down and rest his legs. By the looks of it, he doesn’t have much companionship of other elephants, either.
Elephants, being the social beings they are, are unable to flourish without the company of their own kind, not unlike people, so you can only begin to imagine how hard Lasah’s lonely life must be.
“This is the worst form of elephant abuse we have had the misfortune to come across,” says FOTO’S director Upreshpal Singh. “Lasah is used and abused for tourist money and we were shocked to find him barbarically chained on all four legs when he isn’t being exploited. We’re inclined to think he’s chained in the same manner every night and it’s no surprise he is severely underweight.”
The Cruelty of Elephant Rides
Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Asia hoping they’ll get to ride an elephant. While riding an elephant sounds trivial and quite innocent, we must be the ones to tell you that it is anything but. Here’s why.
Elephants working in the tourist industry, whether that’s giving rides, performing in shows or having photos taken with visitors, are not domesticated animals. Most elephants used in the tourism industry are captured from the wild as infants and forced to endure a brutal “breaking” period where they are forcefully beaten and abused until they no longer possess the will to fight back against their captors. Over the course of their lives in captivity, these elephants will likely either be forced to give tourists rides, like Lasah, guided by the painful “reminding” force of a bullhook through the blistering heat for hours on end, or they will be trained to perform ridiculous tricks for a paying audience.
Life in captivity hardly compares to life in the wild for these animals. In their natural habitat, elephants wander freely over the course of the day but actively keep themselves cool by taking mud baths – something animals with tourists strapped to their backs cannot do. Not to mention, elephants are highly social and emotional animals so when they are deprived of contact and interaction with others of their kind, they can easily become frustrated and depressed. Elephants, at the end of the day, are wild animals prone to stress and volatile emotions, and as a result, many tourists suffer injuries from their interaction with elephants.
Elephants also suffer from ailments themselves when confined in captivity, such as joint problems foot problems, nail wounds, and stereotyping – repetitive motions that are symptomatic of deep mental distress.
Help Free Lasah and Save Other Elephants
Do you agree that Lasah should be retired to an accredited elephant sanctuary? So do we! Sign this petitionto help get Lasah to a wonderful elephant sanctuary called Kualah Gandah. And make sure you ask your friends and family to do the same!
And if you really want to help Lasah and other elephants being exploited throughout the world: Never ride an elephant! Share this article to increase your impact.
Image source: Upreshpal Singh/Facebook