PETALING JAYA: Local NGO Friends of the Orangutans (Foto) have once again exposed what it claims is extreme cruelty to wildlife, this time on the tourist island of Langkawi.
According to the NGO, the Langkawi Elephant Adventures is currently in possession of a solitary male elephant used for rides, that is chained for long hours, unknown to the public, when rides close at the end of the day.
According to Foto, Lasah, the 36-year-old wild born Asian elephant has been used as a tourist attraction in Langkawi for over a decade and the elephant has endured a life of exploitation and abuse. As a result, the NGO has demanded the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) transfer Lasah to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary in Lanchang, Pahang.
“This is the worst form of elephant abuse we have had the misfortune to come across. Lasah is used and abused for tourist money and we were shocked to find him barbarically chained on all four legs when he isn’t being exploited.
“We’re inclined to think he’s chained in the same manner every night and it’s no surprise he is severely underweight,” said Fotoa director Upreshpal Singh, while adding that the chaining method contravenes sub-regulation 7(2) of the 2013 Wildlife Conservation (Exhibition) Regulations law.
Foto also revealed that the elephant has spent over 20 years in several zoos including the Singapore Zoo. He has been forced to work in a logging camp, perform in shows including in a popular Malaysian entertainment outlet and used in the 1999 film Anna and the King.
According to the Langkawi Elephant Adventures website, Lasah has also been featured in commercials and the former still offers Lasah for promotional activities.
Upreshpal adds, “After many years of living a miserable life, Lasah was sent to Langkawi in March 2006 and has since been forced to give rides for hours in sweltering heat and humidity while at the mercy of his handler, then chained brutally when redundant, rendering it impossible for him to lie down to sleep. You have to feel sorry for how this elephant has been exploited by greedy, money-grubbing individuals all these years.”
Meanwhile, Sean Whyte, CEO of British group Nature Alert denounced the abuse, saying, “I condemn using elephants to carry tourists. This is a commercial activity that has nothing to do with conservation or education and it should be banned by government. It’s time to give Lasah the elephant a rest and retire him to Kuala Gandah sanctuary with other elephants.”
Elephants are a social animal species and it is widely known that they are among the smartest animals in the world. In the wild they travel up to 50 kilometres a day, playing, foraging, bathing in rivers and communicating with other elephants, among many other wild behaviours they exhibit.
“Considering what he has been forced to endure all these years we ask NRE to urgently retire Lasah to Kuala Gandah where he can spend the remainder of his days and have the companionship of other elephants, space, and care that he deserves.
“We will campaign until Lasah is transferred as this once wild gentle beast has suffered enough and we urge all caring Malaysians to join our campaign and speak up for poor Lasah,” Upreshpal said.
Foto also reminded foreign tourists and members of the Malaysian public to boycott zoos and wildlife parks using wild animals for profit.
“The reason why wildlife is being exploited around the country is because there is demand for abusive activities like elephant riding and wildlife shows. The public are unknowingly causing suffering to animals and we urge them to fight for the rights of animals instead,” concluded Singh.
The NGO also urged members of the public to sign the petition to ask the NRE minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to order the transfer of Lasah to Kuala Gandah, at this link: Save Lasah the elephant from daily abuse