The TreadRight Foundation has highlighted its latest wildlife project, centred around saving elephants from negligent and abusive situations in India, through a powerful new video.

Hosted by TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau, the not-for-profit organisation brought together a group of storytellers on a journey of education and compassion in India.

The main goal of their trip was to learn more about Wildlife SOS’s work to save elephants from trauma and bring more attention to the organisation’s #RefuseToRide campaign. You can see more about their mission below.

Often travellers have no idea of the abuse that elephants must endure to be “tamed” for riding.

They’re poached from the wild as babies, isolated from other elephants, then beaten until they’re so terrified of people they’ll do anything.

This cruel practice is called phajaan, or “breaking of the spirit.”

“It might be your dream to ride elephants, but this is an elephant’s worst nightmare.”

Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS Kartick Satyanarayan.


“Riding an elephant may seem innocuous considering the large size of the animal, but the reality is quite different, and extremely shocking,” he said.

“Coupled with the fact that these elephants are beaten mercilessly to make them ‘ride-able’ and ‘photo-friendly,’ the excruciating pain that elephants suffer through to carry people on their backs only adds to their misery.”

“The never-ending demand from tourists for animal sports and entertainment is keeping this grotesque industry alive. If tourists stop riding elephants, elephant abuse and exploitation will automatically end.”


Much of what takes place in the elephant-riding industry is illegal by Indian law and, as such, Wildlife SOS is petitioning government to do all they can to help put an end to the abuse of elephants used for riding in Jaipur, India.

Program Director of The TreadRight Foundation Shannon Guihan said “responsible travellers will begin to understand the decades of pain, suffering, and cruelty that goes into producing that one-off tourist experience and recognise the need to refuse to ride”.

Join us in congratulating TreadRight on their great work.