Zimbabwe animal sanctuary to stop elephant rides

2017-12-21 11:35 - Kavitha Pillay
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Baby elephant at Wild Horizons in Zimbabwe. (Photo: Supplied)

Cape Town - Making a positive change in the new year for the protection and well-being of elephants, Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary in Zimbabwe says it will stop elephant rides from 01 January 2018.

"Wild Horizons will cease to offer elephant-back safaris and will instead offer an elephant conservation experience," says the elephant safari and orphanage.

The decision comes at a time when elephant rides and animal interactions, as well as the trade and hunting of elephants are hotly debated topics, with many animal welfare organisations pushing for a move towards greater protection of the species.

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The sanctuary says it intends to continue to work closely with the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust and numerous other conservation bodies "to provide refuge to elephants in distress and further the rehabilitation and release work we have been doing to date".

"Our mission has always been to create a facility which would enable us to rehabilitate and ultimately release all elephants in our care, back into a wild free-ranging state," adds the sanctuary.

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Wildlife Horizons' goal is to provide an “Elephant Encounter” that focuses on a conservation experience - one that allows guests to "unobtrusively interact" with elephants.

"This will offer visitors the opportunity to spend time walking through the bush with the elephants, observing them up close in the wild and getting to know their individual characters whilst learning more about the importance of elephant conservation from the guides who have journeyed with them through their lives and gained a unique insight along the way."

It says that the orphans in its care form "the heart of the Elephant Encounter". 

“Guests will learn about the elephant as well as their history and how they came to be in our care as well as the threats facing elephant populations today, in an interesting and informative talk,” adds the sanctuary.

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However, while the sanctuary says that "Being a conscientious traveller can have a material impact in ensuring the ethical and humane treatment of elephants throughout Southern Africa," it also says that elephant-back safaris already booked can still go ahead if visitors choose this option.

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