This is how you can help end elephant riding in Vietnam

When I saw the elephants here for the first time it was really humbling because you’re just walking through the forest and then you just sort of see a big grey thing and you think “What is that?” And then as you come up to it you realise that it’s an elephant in the jungle and everybody stops and kind of goes silent. It’s just really nice to see them in their natural habitat doing what elephants are meant to be doing. We are in the Yok Don National Park and we are pioneering an ethical elephant-friendly tourism model here at the national park. Visitors here can go on an elephant experience half-day or full-day tour in the national park off the beaten track observing elephants being elephants in their natural habitat. There’s actually two other elephant tourism models that are currently active in Vietnam. The biggest one is elephant riding by tourists which if you go and see these places you’ll find elephants chained up on very small leg chains either on a concrete flooring with no shade, no shelter, no drinking water available. If you consider riding an elephant, please do your homework. There is so much research and we know so much that it has a detrimental effect on their welfare, on their physical and psychological state of mind that you should know better. I’d rather pay to do this tour than have someone else pay me even a hundred dollars to ride an elephant because it’s just really, really wonderful and humbling seeing them in their natural environment. This project improves the health of the elephants because we don’t offer elephant riding so all of the day time, the elephants can roam in the forest and they can look for the food by themselves. The changes that we’ve seen in the elephants throughout this process are huge. They are round, they are healthy their eyes are clear their skin is nice and thick no parasite bites no injuries, no scratches. These elephants here in the Yok Don National Park are the healthiest elephants in Vietnam. My dream for this project is that it gets so big that elephant tourism riding will end in Vietnam and to do that, we need more visitors here so that we can expand the project and we can bring in more local elephants and we can start working in other areas of Vietnam copying this model.

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