Backpackers, honeymooners, and other tourists visit Indonesia’s Gili Islands to bathe in the blue seas and relax under palm trees, yet this idyllic resort has a dark, ugly side: more than 500 small, exhausted horses are forced to cart heavy loads of tourists and supplies around the islands every day.
Whipped and Beaten
According to local animal advocates, the horses are badly neglected and often mercilessly beaten as they are literally worked to death.
Thirsty and Exhausted
Despite the sweltering heat, they’re rarely given water to drink, relief from their harnesses, or the opportunity to rest – and they’re worked long into the night, until the last tourists have left the bars.
Gili Carriage Horse Support Network (GCHSN), a local group working to end the exploitation, has stated that, in some cases, the equipment isn’t removed when the shift is over, so the horses are strapped to carriages all day and all night.
Although horses’ average life expectancy is 25 to 30 years, those on the Gili Islands typically live a mere one to three years.
An Endless Cycle
Local people and welfare groups such as GCHSN are trying desperately to end this misery, but until tourists speak out and refuse to pay for rides, the horses’ exploitation and suffering will continue.
What Can You Do?
If you’re travelling to the Gili Islands, please refuse to take carriage rides, and remember to leave reviews highlighting the cruelty on a variety of travel websites. When tourists stop contributing to this cycle of abuse, authorities will be forced to replace horse-drawn carriages with alternative means of transport.
Please also let your friends and family know about the plight of these horses – the more people who know, the better our chances of ending the cruelty.