Here are just a few of the trailblazing achievements for the welfare of elephants you have made possible over the past few months...
Changing perception and decreasing demand
Your support of our Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign and our work for elephant-friendly tourism is having tremendous impact. Our 2017 global study showed the number of people who find elephant riding acceptable has dropped by 9% from 53% to 44% in just three years. What’s more, 80% of tourists would prefer to see elephants in their natural environment. And more than 200 tour operators have also signed the elephant-friendly pledge to not offer elephant rides and shows.
No longer forced to perform tricks
You are giving former European circus elephants a much-needed helping hand by funding the building of a barn at Elephant Haven, Europe’s first elephant sanctuary. Fifteen European countries have recently banned circuses offering elephant performances, but there is no safe place for the 100 elephants involved to retire. By the end of 2020 Elephant Haven expects to have provided around eight elephants with just that. When the sanctuary is fully operational, it will fully comply with our animal-friendly guidelines. Visitors will be invited to watch the elephants from viewing platforms as the animals move about the sanctuary’s fields and trees.
Changing business models
Our pioneering work with Happy Elephant Valley in Chiang Mai, Thailand is making a real difference to elephant lives. This former elephant riding venue is the first in the country we are supporting to meet our elephant-friendly standards. Instead of taking elephant rides and other close-up experiences, visitors will see elephants behave as they would in the wild. This means roaming and grazing in the valley and bathing in rivers. We expect Happy Elephant Valley will be operating as a fully elephant-friendly business in early 2019.
Our Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign has moved Chinese travel companies Qyer.com, Gulian International Travel Agency and Beyond Tourism to make a better world for elephants. They have all signed our elephant-friendly tourism pledge. These operators join CAISSA Tourism Group, FX Trip and ZANADU Trip – the first Chinese companies who joined our global movement to phase out elephant rides and shows last year. Such support is highly significant, since Chinese tourists make up nearly one third of all those visiting Thailand, where several thousand elephants are cruelly held in captivity and are used and abused for entertainment.
Raising awareness through art
Thousands of visitors to central Copenhagen were treated to a powerful World Animal Protection photography exhibition during June and July. The outdoor exhibition focussed on the plight of wild animals, including elephants, lions, tigers and dolphins used and abused for tourist entertainment, and our work to protect them. Guests were also encouraged to take animal-friendly selfies with a beautiful close-up image of three elephants enjoying life at a venue offering responsible tourist experiences.
The suffering of elephants used for entertainment in Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan, Indonesia – has been exposed thanks to an investigation funded by you. Researchers identified six venues – including zoos – offering elephant rides and other activities involving cruel interactions with tourists. All 100 elephants at these venues were chained, kept in severely inadequate conditions and often on concrete floors that are so damaging to their feet. We want tourists to keep away from such entertainments and seek wild animal-friendly activities instead.
Thank you for everything you are doing to protect elephants from abuse. To find out how you can do even more and keep up-to-date with our Wildlife. Not Entertainers campaign, click here.