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Increase in captive elephants kept in cruel conditions
When not giving rides or performing, the elephants were bound to chains less than 3m long.

Report shows trend for elephant rides is growing 

The rise in wildlife tourism has led to a huge increase in the number of elephants being kept in cruel and unacceptable conditions, according to a new report.

Published by World Animal Protection (WAP), the Taken for a Ride report found there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of captive elephants in Thailand in just five years.

The study of some 3000 captive elephants found that three out of four are living in poor and unacceptable conditions. When not giving rides or performing, the elephants were bound to chains less than 3m long and kept on concrete floors close to loud music, crowds and roads.

“The cruel trend of elephants used for rides and shows is growing,” Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, global wildlife and veterinary advisor at World Animal Protection explains. “We want tourists to know that many of these elephants are taken from their mothers as babies, forced to endure harsh training and suffer poor living conditions throughout their life.

“There is an urgent need for tourist education and regulation of wildlife tourist attractions worldwide. Venues that offer tourists a chance to watch elephants in genuine sanctuaries are beacons of hope that can encourage the urgently-needed shift in the captive elephant tourism industry.”

Carried out between 2014 and 2016, the WAP report surveyed venues in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India.

Following an inspection of 220 venues housing a total of 2,923 elephants, only 194 elephants were found to be living in high welfare captive conditions. At these venues, there were no rides or performances and the elephants walked free during most of the day. 

Image (C) Vinoth Chandar/Wikimedia Commons

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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

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 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPB’s Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England’s Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

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Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.