Still Riding Elephants? You’re at Risk of Catching Tuberculosis

Posted on by PETA Australia

Touching or riding wild animals on holiday is never a good idea – for the animals or for you.

While most Australians are beginning to recognise the cruelty behind riding elephants, most travellers are unaware that a number of elephants at Amer Fort in India – a popular tourist destination – have tuberculosis (TB), which can be transmitted to humans.

A photo of the elephants used for rides at Amer Fort.

In 2018, it was revealed that at least 10 of the 102 elephants being forced to carry tourists at the site tested reactive for TB. Since then, the Rajasthan Forest Department (RFD) has tried to waylay public concerns by retesting elephants, but information recently revealed by PETA India found that the RFD’s TB test kits were not specific to elephants, not meant for the purpose of diagnosis, and not approved by any regulatory body. Reassuring, right?

The RFD also declared two of the reactive elephants “non-reactive” two months after diagnosis, even though the disease is typically treated with a multi-drug regimen for six to 12 months after the affected animals have been quarantined.

PETA India has now submitted this evidence to the chief minister’s office, urging him to stop elephant rides at Amer Fort and Elephant Village (Hathigaon) because of the potential human health risks.

In addition to presenting the risk of developing TB, riding these wild animals is horribly cruel. Elephants are often beaten with bullhooks and abducted from their families so that their spirits can be broken at a young enough age to make it safe for humans to clamber on top of them. When elephants aren’t carrying around oblivious tourists for a fee, they spend long hours chained up and are denied any semblance of a natural life.

In 2018, an examination by the Animal Welfare Board of India found that elephants at Amer Fort were under severe psychological distress, that many of their tusks had been cut, and that a number were blind.

Every fairgoer who buys a ticket to ride an elephant is responsible for this merciless cycle of abuse and is putting themselves at risk of catching TB. Please, don’t get “taken for a ride”. Don’t use animals as entertainment while on holiday, and share this information with a friend who needs to know.