This article is the first in a survey about our passive attitude regarding animal abuse around the world.
January is a suitable time for the departure of European tourists to the countries of Southeast Asia. Thailand, India offer many attractions, particularly those relating to animals: reptiles farms, monkey parks, elephant rides.
When someone is interested in seating on the back of an elephant to walk a few kilometers into the jungle, he will logically not ask any question about the mechanisms that make possible such action. We all have in mind the image of the Maharajas and their court, perched in their pods on elephants during the Bengal tiger hunting, or these forest rangers using elephants to transport logs or pull stumps off. And yet … how is it possible to obtain the enslavement of wild animals for their acceptance?
To achieve this, the animals undergo a very special dressage actually akin to a real torture. The method used is called “phajaan”. Its definition given by specialists is:
“The phajaan is a method of adapting a wild elephant to its new environment: working with men. A young elephant is captured, and then imprisoned in a very tight wooden cage preventing movement. In addition, the animal is tied with ropes that forced him and forbid him any movement of the legs, head and trunk. The animal is then struck repeatedly at strategic locations, the most sensitive ones. ”
This method is supposed to crush the spirit of the elephant. As explained by some experts, the origin of phajaan comes from the ancient belief that the mind of an elephant can be separated from his body so that he loses his reflexes and his wild natural instinct and can be completely under the human control. The submission must be total and torture must break his reactions so he accepts everything that is expected from him.
Only one elephant out of two survives this treatment which lasts about a week. But the survivors are not saved so far. Many have serious behavior problems (elephant accidents killing their trainers are common) or are no longer able to comply with the orders given to them. Obviously only few elephants can become really “operational” after this practice. Those usable, then undergo a constraining training: they must perform certain tricks, take tourists on their backs for a walk and make them laugh. And when they are at rest, they remain tied to maintain their docility.
Let’s stop deluding ourselves here! This is because there are more and more tourists interested in these exotic trips that the market is expanding. In northern Thailand, for example, companies that organize these attractions are numerous, and the local and international tour operators offer almost all these walks.
During your next trips to these exotic countries, remember this article, the video above and categorically refuse any proposal to go for a walk on an elephant back. Although some marketing arguments emphasize that the trainers respect the animals, this is totally false. The pachyderms are martyred for our pleasure, our unhealthy sense of superiority with regard to an animal that can be more powerful and as smart as us!