Elephants used for tourist rides ‘screamed in agony’ after being beaten and chained

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A wildlife photographer has shared shocking pictures he took of elephants being chained up and beaten with canes to raise awareness of the animal abuse. Norman Watson, 47, traveled to National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India, to photograph wild tigers.

Despite the tigers being well cared for and allowed to roam free in the nature reserve, Norman said he was angered to find a group of elephants, some just babies, being chained up by guides who used them for tourist rides.

A wildlife photographer has vowed never to return to a nature reserve in India after witnessing the abuse of elephants (Picture: Mercury/Norman Watson)

He witnessed the huge animals being beaten with 5ft canes and ‘screaming in agony’. Norman also claims he spotted emaciated baby elephants chained to trees and in cages during his working trip to one of India’s most popular national parks.

Norman, from Aberdeen, Scotland, said: ‘I felt so much anger, there were five people in the group and they witnessed it all, feeling the same as I do. ‘We were shocked.

‘The screams from the elephants when they were whipped put a shiver down my spine. ‘They were in so much distress they were weeing themselves – while we were about 100 metres away, screaming for this to stop.’

The photographer made his trip in April this year with the tigers in his sights, but said he felt compelled to share the abuse as he could not believe it was happening in a place popular with animal lovers.

He claims the guides, known as mahouts, repeatedly hit the elephants and whipped them with bamboo as they rode them, sometimes allowing six people at a time to sit on an elephant. Norman said the guides abusing the elephants were responsible for leading the photographers to tigers to help preserve them.

He said: ‘They should be banned from keeping any kind of animal and certainly not elephants, given other roles in the reserve that doesn’t cause animal abuse. ‘Elephants shouldn’t be taken from the wild or ridden by people. They should be given protection throughout Asia.

Norman Watson took pictures after witnessing the elephants being whipped with 5ft bamboo canes (Picture: Mercury/Norman Watson)
The photographer said he saw baby elephants that appeared to be emaciated (Picture: Mercury/Norman Watson)
Norman said he and other photographers heard some of the animals screaming in agony (Picture: Mercury/Norman Watson)
The elephants were being used for tourist rides – sometimes holding six people at a time (Picture: Mercury/Norman Watson)
The photographer said there was conflict as the same guides that were in charge of the elephants took them to see tigers in the wild with the mission of saving them (Picture: Mercury/Norman Watson)
Norman said he would not be returning to the nature reserve until the elephant abuse stopped (Picture: Mercury/Norman Watson)

‘During one of the worst incidents we witnessed, we heard the elephant in distress really trumpeting. ‘There were two young elephants, about five years old, with their legs chained so close together they were actually hopping while trying to get away from a mahout beating them with a bamboo pole.

‘It escalated to one mahout pulling the elephants over with their tails while the other had a sharp hook over its ear. ‘They rolled it onto its side and beat it for about 10 minutes, only stopping because he was exhausted swinging the bamboo pole.’

Norman, who has traveled the world taking animal photos, said India was an otherwise great place to visit but he would not return to Bandhavgarh until the abuse stopped. He added: ‘India was a great place, friendly people but I’ll not return to Bandhavgarh until this abuse has stopped. ‘Only people power can change wildlife abuse and .’

This article was first published by Metro on 17 June 2019.


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Carol Keith
Carol Keith

My sincere thanks to this man for coming forward with a tourist side of hearing this. Many people claim to have not heard about this subject…but it’s real and it happens WAY TOO OFTEN.

george mira

So, you still spent money funding these very guides so that you could either profit or feel socially advanced from your photography.
Interesting.

Marilyn Ashman

He should have been serious enough to have brought in the police and someone to rescue those Harmless Souls!. I would have shouted it loudly to all of those rotten tourists of what had been photographed!

scott dunkel
scott dunkel

I only wish i could fly over to India and stop these assholes from this Elephant abuse and then chain them up and beat them! See how they like it! Cant this crap be stopped?

Celeste Yordan
Celeste Yordan

how I hate and despice people that torture and abuse innocent animals for their benefit/pleasure..pray .KARMA sooner or later catches up with them.sons of bitches…

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

Once again, our species proves how unevolved we are. Disgraceful

Diane
Diane

Outrageous! This so-called wildlife park should be closed and the wardens, who should be caring for the animals, rather than abusing them, prosecuted.