Thursday, October 18, 2012

Elephant Conservation Vs Mass Tourism

The news below prompted me to write.....

It is true that tourists are not coming to Kuala Gandah as the Wildlife Protection Act 2010 was enforced. Elephants are not allowed to entertain tourists - so the law says. It is a strange law in Bolehland. Do you know that there is also a clause in the Wildlife Protection Act 2010 that says Government agencies can "bulldoze" salt licks for development? But salt licks are important for wildlife and especially elephants. Elephants are the flagship of the living ecosystem in jungle as they are able to dig up salt licks for other smaller animals. Its just hypocritical to have law that can destroy salt licks on one hand but on the other its a no-no! It is a noble gesture to prevent elephants from carrying tourists (as they said wildlife are best left in the wild) but then elephants can be playful and some are known to be highly intelligent.
The problem with dangerous elephants arises when the mahouts became stressful and started to torture the elephants. And that was the reason elephants trampled people. In another case, a friend  witnessed an elephant tour that saw two elephants attacking each other because the first elephant was fed with bananas while the second one which the tourist did not purchase for his elephant became angry. This jeolousy caused the elephants to fight although they didn't harm the tourists. It was a frightening experience for the two tourists riding on their backs. Also there are cases where mahouts used iron spikes to hit at their elephants so that the elephants can walk faster because there is a large crowd waiting for their turn to ride. After going many rounds, the elephants became tired but were forced to continue. That was the problem.
Community should be fed inorder for them to appreciate wildlife conservation. If laws are make to victimize rather than to find a win-win solution, then wildlife conservation might not work. Perhilitan should continue with the elephant rides but limit to certain hours. Well trained and tactful mahouts that are passionate with elephants are the solutions for elephant tourism. In the meantime, let see how this conservation issue could become another political issue.