This is what happens to elephants before tourists go riding on them
We'd like to warn you ahead, some of the images in this articles are not easy to watch.
Thousands of tourists enjoy riding elephants as they travel across Asia. But almost no one is aware of the methods used to tame these elephants in order to make them carry humans on their backs. The method is called 'crushing' - and as implied from it, it means to crush.
"Phajaan" or "Crushing" is a traditional torture method that is used to break the spirit and psyche of young elephants and make them submissive.
"They are imprisoned in cages, starved, beaten, stabbed and cut, and left awake for long days until they are subdued under torture. Many elephants, especially those with strong endurance, die from shock, thirst, stress and other injuries because people don't stop torturing them until the elephant is completely broken..", animal rights activists wrote on Facebook.
"Elephant cubs are taken from their mothers at a very young age, usually at the age of 3 to 6 years, but sometimes even at a younger age. After the elephant is captured, the Phajaan's goal is to break his spirit", they explained. "They will put the elephants in small cages, similar to those in the pig industry. They will tie their legs with ropes, stretch their limbs, beat them regularly with metal tools and other objects, scream and shout at them all the time, and starve them, use Bull hooks (tools that are used in most forms of elephant control) to stab their heads, cut their skin and beat their ears".
"Ropes are used to tie and stretch the elephants' limbs, and eventually they will replace the ropes with tight straps that restrict their movement. The Phajaan will last for weeks and the elephants will have no rest from the physical and mental torture. Eventually their spirit and psyche are broken and their 'trainers' gain control".
A video uploaded by activist Edwin Wick of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand shows what elephant cubs go through during the pagan. The scenery is not easy to watch!
Activists fighting animal cruelty want people to be aware of the hidden cruelty these elephants have to absorb before they become a tourist attraction for money.
It is important to know that tourist elephant riding varies from camp to camp. There are camps that operate like a factory where elephants are abused and tortured and camps where elephants are treated and tamed with the respect they deserve.
But because it is difficult to know in which camp elephants are treated well and which are abused, education awareness is something important. If someone is concerned about the way elephants are treated, they can do their own research ahead of time.
"The next time you see an Asian elephant being used for walks, elephant rides, movies, circus or any other type of entertainment, look at his ear condition. Abused elephants in captivity usually have torn ears or are in a difficult condition because their tissues are torn during training. In addition, they usually have scars on their foreheads because of the constant blows they suffer", say animal rights activists.
There are a number of charities working to save these elephants, trying to change this relationship of a master and slave into a more human one with proven scientific results.