By Luke Kenton
A tourist helped a group of mistreated and dehydrated trekking elephants in heartwarming video.
While backpacking near the Na Muang waterfall, in Koh Samui, Thailand, animal lover Naomi Ross was left ‘shocked and disturbed’ when she stumbled across a quartet of mammoth mammals.
Tightly chained to the floor with no room to walk more than a step in any direction, the giant Asian elephants violently thrash side-to-side in an abnormal behavioural trait known as ‘weaving’, exhibited by captive creatures during times of ‘severe mental distress’.
Realising the elephants had no access to water or food, Naomi emptied her backpack for supplies, but as the mammals were glugging two litre bottles of water in a matter of seconds, Naomi knew something more had to be done.
Naomi, from Driffield, East Yorkshire, said: “Every single one of the elephants had visible beating marks and rope burns etched on their skin, they were practically begging us for help as we approached them.
“We found a tap nearby and spent the next hour or so re-filling our water bottles discretely, but once the owners found out we were confronted aggressively and they shut the water supply off.
“Desperate to help these poor elephants, we then went to a local public toilet and used the bathroom taps for water, much to the dismay of the owners.”
Trekking elephants can work for well up to 12 hours per-day carrying tourists and cargos, which can take a physical toll if not properly looked after.
For a healthy diet, an elephant needs to drink around 50 gallons of water a day, in addition to 300kg of food.
Naomi, who begins studying veterinary medicine in September, believes from the elephants’ physical appearance that these animals received far
short of such a quota.
She said: “Since I’ve been in Thailand I have volunteered at several elephant sanctuaries where the animals are treated so well.
“As soon as I saw these elephants, I could see they had been mistreated.
“To tame or domesticate these animals, their owners often employing ‘breaking’, whereby through months of negative reinforcement and punishment, the elephants eventually become submissive.
“Such punishment includes starving the elephants for weeks on end, shackling them, whipping them with sharp metal objects and locking them in dark enclosures.
“I’ve seen owners over here punch a baby elephant for reaching out to him with his trunk and it seems this group are subjected to the same treatment.
“I urge anyone thinking of trekking with elephants to refrain and instead visit them at one of the many sanctuaries in Thailand.
“There’s so much to see in Asia without the need to ride an elephant.”