Even though elephants are renowned for their size and strength, tourists who ride on their backs still pose a significant risk, as this Thailand wildlife rescue group’s photo demonstrates.
Pai Lin, a 71-year-old woman who worked in the tourism industry for 25 years and was forced to carry up to six tourists at a time, is depicted in the image provided by the Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand (WFFT). Her spine has become disfigured.
The group stated, “Pai Lin’s back still bears scars from old pressure points.” The tissue and bones on the backs of elephants can deteriorate as a result of this constant pressure, resulting in permanent physical damage to their spines.
In Southeast Asian nations, elephant rides are a popular tourist activity, but activists say it is cruel to animals because their bodies weren’t made to be ridden. According to them, the animals are also frequently abused and exploited in other industries like trekking and logging, where many of them literally work themselves to death due to exhaustion and malnutrition.
According to CNN, the director and founder of the WFFT, Edwin Wiek, “Pai Lin arrived at our sanctuary in 2006 after working in the Thai tourism industry.”
“She was surrendered by her past proprietor who felt that she was too sluggish and consistently in torment and couldn’t function admirably any longer,” he added.
The group’s project director, Tom Taylor, added that elephants’ backs weren’t made to carry a lot of weight.
Taylor stated, “Their spines extend upwards.” As can be seen in Pai Lin, constant pressure from tourists on their backbones can cause permanent physical damage.
As tourism returned to the country following the pandemic, Cambodia banned elephant rides at Angkor Wat Wiek. The group shared Pai Lin’s story to raise awareness of elephant cruelty and remind people not to ride them.
It is essential to comprehend that, in contrast to horses, elephants are not bred to be ridden. He stated, “They are taken from the wild, are not domesticated, and are kept in terrible conditions.”
Pai Lin and 24 other rescued elephants spend their days in WFFT’s sanctuary near Hua Hin, a seaside town about 2.5 hours from Bangkok.
She’s more established now and has placed on weight. ” Wiek stated, “She’s fatter now than when she first came to us.” However, you can clearly see the shape of her spine; she will have to live with it, but she is doing well.
The contemplative “old woman” appreciates having her own space.
Wiek continued, “She’s definitely an introvert and doesn’t really enjoy being around the company of other elephants but likes to be the center of attention from people.”
“She is a very lovely elephant, but she does get moody when it involves food.”