Asian elephant populations are down by 50%
Asian elephants inhabit the forested regions of India and Southeast Asia. They are slightly smaller than their African cousins, most notable in the size of their ears. They are classified as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to National Geographic, over the past 75 years, the Asian elephant population has declined by an estimated 50%. There are only an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild.
Threats to wild Asian elephant populations include deforestation and habitat loss, as well as a direct conflict with humans. Large industrial and agricultural developments and expanding human communities have severely damaged elephant habitats. Rapidly disappearing habitat has lead to an increase of human-elephant conflict. Elephants raid crops and villages in search of food, often resulting in losses to both human property and lives. Retaliation by villagers often leads to the killing of elephants.
The Brutal Phajaan “Training”
Baby elephants as young as three-years old are stolen from their mothers in the wild and dragged to a clearing to endure the Phajaan or “breaking of the spirit.” They will be kept in small crates (called “crush cages”) where their legs are bound and stretched with ropes. They will be stabbed, beaten, burned, starved of food and water, and subjected to constant yelling and screaming. Bull hooks are used to stab their heads, slash their skin, and tug their ears. Asian elephants used for rides or other entertainment often have torn or shredded ears from being ripped during the Phajaan. They also often have scars on their foreheads from deep lacerations caused by beatings.
The Phajaan may last from several days to weeks. The elephants have no rest from mental and physical torture. Gradually, their spirits are broken. In the final stage, the mahout will bring the animal its first food and water. They will be the one to release the elephant and lead it away from the crate. After weeks of torture, emotional abuse, loneliness, confusion, and separation, the elephant sees this human as its savior—the one it trusts. This is just another stage of mental and emotional manipulation. It is how a mahout gains control over such an immense animal.
Massachusetts: Say no to the use of elephants in traveling shows
Petition your State Senator and your State Representative to enact Senate Bill S.2251 and House Bill H.3376
The objectives of these bills are to:
- Prohibit the use of elephants in traveling animal acts.