A photographer was horrified when he witnessed elephants being abused, chained up and beaten with bamboo sticks to carry tourists in India at a wildlife reserve. Norman Watson had traveled to the popular Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, in April 2019, to photograph protected wild tigers where he ironically discovered despicable cruelty towards elephants.
According to The Sun, Watson saw guides whipping the elephants with five-foot bamboo canes, and he could hear the “elephants screaming in agony.” He also described emaciated baby elephants chained to trees and in cages.
“We were shocked,” Watson stated as he and several other witnesses saw and heard the elephants being abused. “The screams from the elephants when they were whipped put a shiver down my spine. They were in so much distress they were weeing themselves – while we were about 100 metres away, screaming for this to stop.”
The website for the reserve advertises elephants being used to take tourists on tours of the park. The site also stated in order to ride the elephants, “written permission” had to be obtained from the park’s field director.
The elephant guides, known as mahouts repeatedly abused the elephants with the bamboo sticks to accommodate tourists wanting to ride them (up to six people at a time); the babies were often left behind tied up or in cages. Watson also described how two emaciated baby elephants, no more than five-years-old, had their legs chained so close together, they had to hop while trying to escape the beatings from the mahouts. The abuse from the men against the babies escalated, and when the elephants lost their footing and fell over, the guides beat them for another ten minutes and only stopped because they were tired.
“They should be banned from keeping any kind of animal and certainly not elephants, given other roles in the reserve that doesn’t cause animal abuse. Elephants shouldn’t be taken from the wild or ridden by people. They should be given protection throughout Asia,” Watson added.
The photographer has traveled around the world taking pictures of animals, however he has sworn not to return to Bandhavgarh until the abuse has been stopped.
(Photos screenshots from FB for Norman Watson and Mercury Press)
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