Elephant Used for Rides Snaps, Tramples Handler to Death

Posted on by Aoife Kilalea

Update: The elephant was found, shot with a tranquilizer gun by authorities, and recaptured. Information has not been disclosed if the poor elephant will continue to ferry tourists around for entertainment or be handed over to Cambodia’s Forestry Administration.

Yet another elephant has been fatally pushed to the breaking point.

At a tourist elephant camp in Cambodia, an elephant used to ferry tourists on his back to a waterfall snapped and killed his mahout (handler). In the moments leading up to the attack, the stressed animal refused to submit to the mahout’s orders. When the mahout reportedly jammed a metal hook into the elephant’s head in an attempt to control him, the desperate animal threw the man up in the air, gored him, and trampled him to death.

A search is underway for the agitated animal—who was reportedly in musth (a state of sexual urge in male elephants that causes them to act aggressively)—after he ran off into the jungle.

It’s painful and unnatural for elephants to haul tourists on their backs. Before elephants will let humans climb aboard, the animals must endure unimaginable abuse. The minds, bodies, and spirits of baby elephants are systematically “broken” through a barbaric process called phajaan. Baby elephants are dragged from their mothers, tied with ropes and cables, and locked inside cages. They are denied food, water, and sleep and are mercilessly beaten for days at a time in order to make them submit to humans.

The abuse doesn’t end at the training camps. Once the animals’ spirits are broken, they will likely spend their entire lives working to the point of exhaustion, being beaten with bullhooks, and denied everything that is natural and important to them. Some don’t survive the endless workload and abuse.

Elephants have snapped before, and they will continue to do so unless we act to stop the abuse. Preventing humans from being killed by elephants is as simple as not forcing these intelligent animals to endure rides, photo ops, and other vacation activities.


You Can Help

Tourist money funds this egregious industry. Please, if you’re traveling to Thailand, Cambodia, or anywhere else that elephant rides are offered, refuse to support this cruelty and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

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