Dark reality of how elephants are 'broken' for rides as charity drops Martin Clunes

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Martin Clunes has been dropped by charity Born Free following an outcry after he climbed onto an elephant .

The actor clambered onto the majestic animal using its ears and trunk for the ITV show My Travels And Other Animals.

But his actions have sparked fury with campaigners calling for ITV to scrap the show and delete it from its catch up channels.

Born Free chief Howard Jones said: “We can confirm that, with much regret, Martin Clunes is no longer a patron.

“Born Free has always been opposed to the exploitation of captive wild animals for entertainment and human interactions, including riding elephants.”

Martin Clunes trying to climb up onto an elephant via the elephant’s trunk

 

The broadcaster has said it was “deeply unfair” and “misrepresentative” to suggest the show endorsed cruelty, as Clunes “made it very clear he had serious concerns about elephants carrying people”.

Audrey Gaffney, co-founder of the Ethical Bucket List, which wants to change the way people travel, has revealed the harrowing ways elephants are ‘trained’ to give people rides.

She explained: “For many tourists travelling to Asia, an elephant ride is on top of their ‘bucket list’.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the vibrant colourful religious festivals in India or the exotic tropical landscapes of the islands of Thailand and Vietnam.

“In this setting seeing elephants dressed, painted and paraded through the streets or carrying excited groups of tourists on their backs is considered their customary role.

Martin clambers up onto the elephant’s back

Martin clambers up onto the elephant’s back

 

“As this view of their role is steeped in religion and tradition it is normally accepted by tourists as commonplace and many believe harmless.

“However the truth is that these scenes hide a very dark reality for the animals involved.”

Audrey explains that to be trained in this way, elephants must be captured when they are very young.

She said: “Capturing the young will normally involve the death of up to four adult elephants that protect the young.

“Also as a result of crude capture methods, many of the captive young do not survive.

The elephants are kept in cramped conditions to ‘break’ them

“As wild animals elephants don’t naturally parade around festivals or allow people to ride them, to get them to perform requires a cruel painful process for the animal.

“The animal needs to be conditioned into submission, this process is known as ‘the crush’ or Phajaan, as it literally requires crushing the young elephant’s spirit.

“The process will always involve beatings and violence, the elephant will be kept in a box no bigger than themselves or tied between two trees.

“They are then subjected to systematic beatings, starvation and lack of water.

“This will continue until the animal’s spirit is broken or they die.”

Elephants are then tortured until their “spirit is crushed”

Heartbreaking, because elephants are so intelligence this process can take a long time.

Audrey said: “Once the creature is broken their life does not improve and starvation, beatings and over work are a normal existence.

“An elephant’s physiology does not support riding as the spine is upright which is where the saddle or rider will go.

“An elephant’s skin is extremely sensitive, especially behind their ears, which is why you will see hooks, nails or sticks used in this location to keep the animal submissive.”

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