The visit to the UK of Prime Minister Modi of India last week was a whistlestop tour with limited agenda and time for debate, and there are of course issues that remain to be addressed over the coming months. One of these is the dire situation for Asian elephants in India. The numbers of this ancient species are declining dramatically in the wild from poaching and loss of habitat, and they suffer greatly in captivity through brutal pajan "training", confinement and beating.
A new poll by leading research consultancy Populus (which included Asian and Hindu respondents) has found that 77% feel the Indian government is not doing enough to protect Asian elephants, and an overwhelming 81% consider it important that the UK government takes action to provide support for this, as promised in the Conservative Party's 2015 election manifesto.
Tourists in the UK want to make the right choice when booking holidays abroad, but have long been kept in the dark about the sinister reality of elephant experiences in Asia. Most are unaware that elephants used in tourism and in temples have been put through a violent "training" process called pajan. This involves complete isolation, deprivation of food, water and sleep and then brutal beating designed to "break their spirits". Many die during this process. Demand for elephants for tourism and temple use is met by the illegal capture of young from the wild. This is dangerous and violent and often goes wrong, resulting in the death of the baby elephant, and other herd members are also killed as they try to defend their young. The Populus poll found that 85% of those surveyed would avoid visiting a tourist experience involving elephants if they discovered that the elephants had been treated badly. This confirms that, if the reality of what happens behind the scenes were to be exposed fully, British tourists would overwhelmingly avoid these attractions. A massive 88% consider the process of pajan to be unjustified in training elephants for use in tourism and temples, and yet it continues to this day.
As your constituents start to plan overseas holidays for 2016, we ask that you bring this issue to their attention. They should be able to make informed decisions with knowledge of the reality of what happens behind the happy façade of elephant rides and festival parades. You can read more at www.stae.org/horrors.
If you have already signed EDM 45 on the protection of Asian elephants, please let me thank you once more for your support. If you have not done so, and you are able to sign EDMs, please consider doing so now. You can find the text of the EDM here http://www.parliament.uk/edm/
Thank you for your time.