Editor’s Note: Although not common in North America, elephant rides are popular in many of the countries where our 42,000 followers reside!
Despite many animal organizations suggesting that you should not ride elephants, it still a popular tourist activity in many countries. However, many trainers practice inhumane training methods that hurt the elephant when it carries passengers. If you want to be able to ride an elephant in a way that is safe for the both of you, here are some things you should know.
Do not attempt if you weigh over 400 lbs. Elephants can only comfortably carry that much weight.
- If you want to ride with a friend on the same elephant make sure that your combined weight is less than 400 lbs. If it’s more you should ride separately.
Research and decide what elephant camp that you will be supporting.
- Looking at websites online, their reviews, and calling camps is a good start.
- Larger camps often treat their elephants better and have more experienced trainers.
- Do the trainers use humane training and discipline techniques? Have there been any complaints of abuse or mistreatment?
- Do they make pregnant female elephants carry passengers?
- There are many elephant conservation sites that put the health of the elephant above profit, unlike tourist elephant camps.
Leave anything you would care about breaking behind.
- Elephants are tall and sway as they walk so items are likely to fall out of your pockets.
Wear light weight clothing and keep an extra change of clothing nearby.
- Decide between shorts or pants. Shorts might keep you cooler, but make sure to wear longer shorts as they will ride up. Pants would help protect your legs from possible vegetation and bugs. You can always roll your pants up if it’s too hot.
- If it is sunny consider bringing a hat.
- Some elephant trails cross or arrive at rivers in which the elephants might enter to play. Be prepared to possibly get wet and have some dry clothes for back up.
Ride the elephant bareback.
- Often times saddles are on put on incorrectly or tightened improperly which leads to chafing of the elephant’s skin.
- Riding bareback also allows you to be closer with the elephant.
Mount the elephant. Camps usually have platforms for you to walk up onto so you can easily climb onto the elephant from there.
Sit up straight. Remember, elephants sway as they walk, so do not be too rigid. Sit up straight but be flexible and move with the elephant. This helps to keep your balance.
- If you feel like you’re losing your balance place your hands on the elephant’s back or neck to steady yourself.
Climb off the elephant when your trek has finished.