Another wonderful creature I’ve been privileged to touch, and who touched me, was an elephant in India.
First, a disclaimer: I do not support elephant joy-rides (for tourists), as in Thailand, nor do I approve of the training method used there and elsewhere. The Indian way of elephant training is relatively humane, and it is evolving as we speak, with Wildlife Trust of India introducing an elephant-whispering method.
Another major difference is that an Indian mahout and his elephant form a one-on-one life-long relationship, especially considering that the human and elephant lifespans are similar. Every day has a siesta time where the elephant enjoys a massage and bath in a river or waterhole administered by his/her mahout, and that is a joy to behold.
Tigers are disturbed by humans on foot, on or off road. They are not disturbed by humans in vehicles (excluding ATVs) or on elephants. Until a better technology is advanced, the elephant is the only way by which a tiger preservationist can go off road in rugged tiger habitat WITHOUT disturbing the tigers. Only by going off road on elephants can you do any ground level tiger preservation work in tiger habitat, and observe such amazing sequences like these presented below.
Those still opposed to even wildlife preservationists using domesticated elephants for saving endangered wildlife, including wild elephants by the way, might consider the alternative – extinction of the endangered wildlife. They should bear in mind that driving species to extinction, thus denying their most basic right – to exist – is the ultimate violation of Animal Right, infinitely worse than riding an elephant.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)