Tourists planning to ride elephants in Thailand are being urged to think again as photos of the alleged abuse towards the animals have gone viral on Twitter this week.
While the Thai government discourages elephant rides, these attractions reportedly persist in some tourist locations across the country, subjecting the animals to unimaginable torture from a young age.
The photos, which were first posted in April, are believed to have been taken in Phuket.
The images show the elephants with gut-wrenching wounds on their heads and bodies, presumably inflicted by keepers training them for business with sharp metal canes.
The photos have since shocked both tourists and local authorities, who claimed that several initiatives are underway to combat the problem.
Such initiatives reportedly include policies, research, rehabilitation of injured animals and prosecution of illegal wildlife trade.
“We never support tourists riding the elephants,” a spokesperson from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told Yahoo News Australia.
“Please don’t ride the elephants and don’t support this business.”
In 2014, international watchdog Traffic reported that some of the elephants come from Myanmar. Young elephants are “mentally broken and prepared for training” before being put on the market.
“In Myanmar, domesticated elephants are used to corral wild animals into pits where older protective members of herds are often killed and the higher value, younger animals taken. The young are then transported to Thai-Myanmar border areas and then mentally broken and prepared for training before being sold into the tourism industry in Thailand where they are put to work at tourist camps or hotels.”
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