Rickshaw Travel has replaced all elephant-riding excursions from its holiday packages with more ethical elephant experiences.
"We really felt it was time to talk about the elephant in the room. The issues around elephant riding is one that has bothered us for a long time and it became a major goal for us to ensure all the elephant experiences we offer are ethical," says Hannah Hesford, part of Rickshaw Travel's team of 'Meaningful Travel Warriors'.
"We no longer offer riding in any of our trips. Instead we offer just a handful of elephant experiences in Asia which not only prioritise elephant welfare above anything else, but we also strive to support local communities and enable travellers to see these gentle creatures in a more respectful and natural environment. No riding. No harnesses."
The revamped packages now include a visit to the Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka, which helps abandoned elephants to return to the wild when they are ready, giving elephants a river bath in the jungles of Indonesia, and seeing the Elephant Nature Park – home to elephants that have been mistreated in circuses and camps – in Thailand.
"We are delighted that Rickshaw Travel has committed to stop selling elephant rides and has removed them from their programme worldwide," says Alyx Elliot, Head of UK Campaigns at World Animal Protection.
"It's clear that thousands of tourists are visiting wildlife attractions, unaware of the abuse wild animals face behind the scenes. We need to stop the demand for elephant rides and shows by exposing the hidden suffering behind wildlife attractions. If you can ride a wild animal, then you can be sure it is cruel."