1. Urgent enforcement of the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests 2008 guidelines for the care and management of captive elephants.

2. A national education programme for mahouts and owners, with workshops in each state that contains a significant captive elephant population. If cruel behaviour persists, prosecutions should follow and be well publicised. Key elements of this programme should include:-

  • Training Schools for mahouts emphasising positive reinforcement which avoid the negative techniques commonly used for the training and control of Asian elephants.
  • A model Elephant Managers’ Centre with an approved course to teach proper elephant care to vets.

3. A programme of exchange visits by Indian and British vets, sponsored by the respective governments, to work with and learn from each other to raise standards for mutual benefits.

4. A movement sponsored by the Indian government to convert ‘bad’ facilities (for example, certain tourist attractions) into genuine sanctuaries with humane training and management. In any cases where this is not feasible, then to relocate the elephants to suitable areas of the 33 million hectares of Reserve Forests designated by the Indian Forest Act 1927. We propose as an initial step the establishment of a model elephant sanctuary or two, where formerly abused captive elephants can be released into an area of degraded forest.

5. A start to scaling down elephants in processions and festivals.

6. In order to mitigate human-elephant conflict, the preservation and restoration of existing corridors and expansion of the corridors programme in India.

7. International aid. In its Election Manifesto the British government pledged to support the Indian government in its efforts to protect the Asian elephant. The British government could be asked to help fund model rescue centres. The vision is to work for a future including genuine sanctuaries and wildlife reserves where elephants are free to express their natural behaviour without abuse and to be viewed from respectful distances by tourists.

8. An independent review of Project Elephant reports to identify where objectives were not met owing to lack of funds, then the development of an aid programme funded by UKAid.

9. Regular educational statements across the government of India, reinforcing the importance of the elephant role for India ecologically and economically. This will chime well with the increasing awareness of tourists and their desire for responsible tourism.

10. A firm commitment should be demonstrated by the governments of India and Great Britain by a new jointly funded National Strategy for Elephants. An Executive Committee should be appointed to develop and implement the items in this programme.

11. A new UK law to prohibit the advertising, promotion or sale of unethical Asian elephant related holidays and facilities – genuine sanctuaries only.


1. We respectfully request the Governments of India and countries in South East Asia to take urgent steps to:

  • end pajan – the brutal process of domesticating wild-caught elephants
  • end capture from the wild
  • end poaching for ivory and baby elephants
  • end cruel practices including beating, wounding with sharp implements and keeping elephants chained; enclosures that replace chains must meet international standards
  • end the use of elephants in tourist attractions
  • ensure that elephants used in temples, festivals and processions are treated to high standards  of animal welfare.  In the medium term such uses should be phased out.
  • further develop their programmes for containing and reducing human-elephant conflicts and reducing elephant mortality due to road and rail accidents and electrocution
  • step up initiatives for developing corridors for migration routes and for returning elephants to the wild where they can play their natural role in forests, whether in fenced forest enclosures or, where strict criteria for release are met, rehabilitation into the wild in areas where they formerly lived.

2. We urge tourists, travel agents and tour operators not to support any attractions that involve captive elephants other than those genuinely operating as sanctuaries.


STAE believes that Asian elephants don’t just “belong” to a country or region, but have an intrinsic right to exist in the wild. We believe that with a global imagination, global funding, and global planning, there can be a future where wild elephants and humans can co-exist peacefully, in a way that supports and respects local communities, Asia’s rich ecosystems, and the world’s forests. We believe that far more reverence is shown to elephants by respecting their dignity and psychological wellbeing; and that this can reap benefits for humans too.

Captive elephants should be returned to the wild where they can play their natural role in forests, whether in fenced forest enclosures or, where strict criteria for release are met, rehabilitation into the wild in areas where they formerly lived. Those that cannot be returned to the wild should be kept in genuine sanctuaries.
Below STAE shares some of the ways in which elephants are getting on with being elephants and the ways in which kind and compassionate humans are helping them. If you would like to suggest anything for this page – please contact us or share on Facebook or Twitter!

Initiative: Preventing elephant deaths on Indian railways

Juvenile Indian elephant rescued and freed by volunteers


A guide to the Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Act 2023.