(Southeast Asia) – Phajaan is the traditional Asian torture of young elephants to break their spirit. They are caged, starved, beaten, poked and cut and kept awake for days until they become submissive under the torture. Many, especially the ones with stronger wills, die from shock and lack of water/stress/injuries, as the people will not stop until the elephants are judged to be “broken” or completely submissive.
This is another treatment of fellow animals I find particularly loathsome. It has been documented by National Geographic and other reputable elephant experts, such as Thailand’s own “Lek” Chaillert who runs the Elephant Nature Park sanctuary, where I saw raw footage filmed by some of her volunteers, yet many people have either never heard of the phajaan or deny it.
Westerners are not allowed to see them any more. Unfortunately, every captive working elephant that is used in Asia endures this sadistic ritual, including the ones used for elephant ‘treks’– and clueless tourists by the thousands pay to ride them. Please do some research before going to Asia and supporting this grotesque tradition.
Asian elephants are also worked to death in logging camps in Burma (Myanmar) under extremely cruel conditions–even pregnant– and are often given amphetamines to get more work out of them, making them sick and more likely to get injured. Some are also forced to walk city streets with beggars, risking injury and death by automobiles. Many of these are the very same babies who were torn from their mothers and underwent the phajaan torture, only to work on hot, dirty, polluted, noisy streets– a horrible existence for any young animal. These begging elephants are usually not owned by the beggars you see them with, but rich Asians, including corrupt city officials, who get a percentage of the tourists money. Think about that next time you’re tempted to give someone money who exploits animals to beg.
Who’s fighting it: Elephant Nature Park, Dawnwatch.com, Lobsa.org, National Geographic, PETA International, eleaid.com, elephantvoices.com, Born Free, The Elephant Sanctuary, ACRES.
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