Scores of celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Stanley Johnson, Chris Packham and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, have called on the government to ban unethical elephant tourism.
British comedian Ricky Gervais, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson, Dame Jane Goodall and Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch are all supporting a campaign to ban the advertising of holidays featuring unethical elephant rides and performances.
The call comes as charity Save the Asian Elephants (STAE) stae.org reveals hundreds of UK travel firms are advertising holidays in which abused elephants are part of the entertainment.
More than 100 of these firms, which are promoting these unethical experiences in South East Asia, are members of the UK’s biggest travel association ABTA.
Populus polling commissioned by STAE found 86% of 2,000 UK adults carried out between July 10 and 12 want an outright ban on Pajan, which translates to the act of breaking an elephant’s spirit through violent treatment in order to get them to perform. Half of elephants die during this process.
With the population of the Asian elephant on the steady decline, the species has remained on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species for well over 30 years, so conservation is key to this animal’s continued existence in the wild.
British comedian Ricky Gervais said: “Such a tragedy – and a needless one. Britain must take a lead and bring new law NOW to help end this horrific abuse to the world’s most revered creatures. All the travel companies big and small who market this filth should stand in the public dock and pay the price – fines and more for those with the blood of innocent creatures on their hands.”
The Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson said: “I totally support calls for a new UK law banning the advertisement and sale of tourist ‘trips’ to venues in India and elsewhere where Asian elephants are routinely abused to provide ‘entertainment’ in the form of rides, tricks and selfies enforced by constant, often fatal, beatings throughout their life.”
Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch said: “Everyone should know of the brutal cruelty endangered Asian elephants go through due to misinformed holidaymakers paying for elephant entertainments at many tourist attractions. I now know first hand how the species is trained and that it is near extinction. We must stop the ruthless treatment of these creatures who feel pain, suffering, terror and loneliness in captivity. We must act now.”
As well as celebrity backing, there is growing cross Party support calling for government to act now.
On the growing support for the ban, Duncan McNair, CEO of Save The Asian Elephants, said: “It is fantastic to see celebrities, politicians and ordinary people come together to support this worthwhile cause which seeks to end the systematic and widespread abuse of Asian elephants for tourism gain. We are continuing discussions with the UK government on banning this unethical activity, helping to ensure that British tourists are kept safe whilst travelling across Asia and the proper conservation of these wondrous, endangered creatures.”