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Exclusive on AAPN: HOW THE Silliness of humans causes the suffering of others

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  • AZAM SIDDIQUI
    The article below by Jigme Gaton, Advisor for Animal Nepal the leading animal rights organisation of Nepal has been written exclusively for the website: United
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2007
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      The article below by Jigme Gaton, Advisor for Animal Nepal the leading
      animal rights organisation of Nepal has been written exclusively for the
      website: United against Elephant Polo >> http://www.stopelephantpolo.com
      One can also find it here:
      http://www.freewebs.com/elephantpolo/traumavsentertainment.htm

      Azam
      ----------------------------
      HOW THE Silliness of humans causes the suffering of others

      *A short Rant on Elephant Polo and Other Silly Human Activities*

      * by Jigme Gaton, Advisor for AnimalNEPAL*

      When I first heard there was such a sport as elephant polo just a year back,
      I was taken aback - being a participatory sports fanatic in my youth and
      now just the armchair kind - the first question that came to mind was "how?"
      And then "why!?!"

      I played my fair share of hockey as a kid (which seems to be the cruder
      north American version of the polo game) and I was still confused. How the
      heck do you get something the size of TATA truck to play polo? I see lot's
      of elephants here in Kathmandu, but it's always from the backside, stuck in
      some motorbike jam behind the lumbering laborer, so it was hard for me to
      conceive two teams of these slo-mo mammals zooming up and down a field as if
      they were horses, or skaters, trying to score a goal. But after a bit of
      reflection on this odd scene, of course I knew the answer to "how".
      Elephants are trained to play the sport just as they are trained to do any
      other task for humans, by being bullied and manipulated, and in many cases
      tortured.

      When I first visited Chitwan National Park in Nepal, I was a guest at
      well-known resort and literally forced by the host of the hotel to take an
      elephant ride. Not wanting to offend, I mounted Limbu, who was the same age
      as myself, 47, and born in September, so also a Virgo. I had never been that
      close to an elephant and would have been very content to just feed him some
      kibbles and stroke his proboscis, which reminded me of my own. I apologized
      to Limbu for having to climb aboard the viewing contraption strapped to his
      back, but I did, squeezing into a wooden basket filled with a half-dozen
      tourists. My first thought once on his back was that when I turn 48, I hope
      I am not walking the jungle carrying such an awkward load, as these days I
      can barely lift a pencil. So off we went into the jungle - in search of wild
      tiger.

      Now *why* we were doing this I still do not understand. I did not want to
      see a tiger up close in a jungle with a fruit basket of white meat atop an
      old elephant. And if I were a tiger, the last thing I would like to see is
      this silly configuration. Again, I apologized to Limbu for the stupidity of
      humanity, as I am sure the last thing *he* wanted to do that morning was
      track down a wild tiger. I'm no wildlife expert, but I don't think hunting
      tigers with tourists on their backs, loaded only with 35mm Canons is
      something an elephant would ever consider doing in the wild on a Sunday
      morning. But of course elephants have been doing all kinds of crazy things
      throughout the centuries, all to entertain human desire: female's mounting
      each other in circus tents, old males carrying heavy loads of cargo over hot
      busy city streets, and all ages of elephants parading around at weddings
      dressed like dolls. And now we have polo, with elephants having to pretend
      to be horses and playing in tournaments for the rich and famous. Sheesh!

      The insanity of the situation would have made me laugh, but I got close
      enough to see Limbu's scars from repeated beatings from his trainer, and to
      note his battered feet and thighs from being made to crash through the
      jungle balancing a boatload of humans, and then being punished by his
      trainer for almost dumping us into a swamp when his leg gave out. At that
      point he looked a lot older then 47, and his sad tired demeanor was very
      depressing. However, one comrade in the tourist basket gave me a chuckle, a
      typical American, when he commented, "To bad we didn't get to see anything."
      I asked, "What do you mean, anything" He replied, "You know, wildlife!" I
      looked around the very wild jungle of Chitwan, it was wonderful, it was like
      seeing *everything*, and I had to smile´┐Żotherwise I would have cried.

      But back to this idea that people would actually organize a sporting event
      (funded mostly by alcohol manufactures, and like the Sailing sport-industry,
      hosted by a major watch manufacture); are we really to get out and cheer for
      our favorite team of polo pachyderms chasing a polo ball, as in this year's
      Kings Cup? Come on! That's just silly. In the year 2007, aren't we much
      more grown up then that? Haven't we banned pit-bull and cock fights?
      Haven't we gotten rid of bull-fighting? Aren't rodeo and circus ticket sales
      way down? Well, sadly not. But all of these human activities do seem very
      old-school and from a generation past, don't they? Today we seem to be more
      content watching the *World's Stupidest Pet Tricks* on Star World and *The
      Most Fabulous Animal Rescues* on Animal Planet, where our active
      participation is with the remote control instead of any kind of wicket or
      ball or out on a field of any kind. Heck, people are not even walking their
      dog these days but hiring trainers instead, so why all of sudden this new
      sport of Elephant Polo? Obviously this sport is not for mass participation,
      but I hear it's a big hit at the gaming tables in Las Vegas.

      The creation of this sport has to do with a simple formula: Humans are
      urbanizing and deforesting the wild habitat of these magnificent mammals
      faster then animal activists and environmentalists can scream alarm. Civil
      unrest in rural areas (normally habituated by elephants) is on the rise
      world-wide, meaning that conservation areas are becoming disrupted, if not
      abandoned. In my own backyard of Nepal, the conflict here has turned our
      parks into war zones, making for a very unhappy place for any being to live,
      yet still they are organizing elephant polo as a last ditch effort to
      attract tourists. The pressures of human population growth is also pushing
      animals like elephants to the brink of insanity; just consider all the
      recent news reports from India and Nepal re: the shooting of so-called "wild
      killer bulls," mostly adolescent teens who are "mad as hell and not gunna
      take it anymore." And our own anger over elephant poaching is also
      contributing: as more and more elephants are being saved from the blade,
      less and less ivory is being traded, meaning more and more elephants are
      actually getting to live out their wonderful long lives. Well, at least that
      sounds good you say. But where are they going to live? And what will they
      be doing? Circus sales are down, temples are full to capacity, its cheaper
      to run a Toyota these days to haul logs, and elephant rides in Chitwan have
      all but stopped as there are no longer any tigers to chase. So why elephant
      polo, and why now? Here is what I think: to give a new generation of
      elephants with no place to go and nothing to do - a job! The age-old job of
      amusing human masters and spinning off advertising dollars. It's just
      another business to replace the lost ivory one. And as is always the case
      with humans bent on business, something has to give.

      In this case, it is the elephant that has to give. But they are not alone,
      as our specie's practice of wildlife domestication has gotten us into some
      very dire soup. Even man's best friend the dog is being executed in America
      at the rate of 1 for every 100 U.S. citizens per year (and that number is
      touted as an improvement over past years). A recent report cites that
      rendered pets (pets given lethal injections and then disposed) from American
      animal protection shelters are winding up as seafood chow on Chinese seafood
      farms, and that's telling´┐Żit tells me that if we don't have room for (or
      work for) our domesticated pets and polo players, sooner or later we will be
      eating them. But it's really hard to imagine a rendered elephant destined
      for a seafood farm, so for now, developing polo matches worldwide seems more
      likely. Instead of doing the right thing - preserving dwindling habitats -
      developing the elephant polo industry looks to be the winning and more
      profitable ticket for those owning the refugee-elephant population.
      Silliness is bordering on insanity. If we as a species can Google the
      planet Mars and see a rock on the surface, can't we see that what we are
      doing to elephants and so many other species of intelligent mammals like
      ourselves is just plain *wrong*? You don't have to be rocket scientist for
      this insight. You just have to look past the propaganda handed out by the
      sales team.

      As raving as I may seem, I encourage all to get involved with any group of
      activists trying to "right the wrong" so to speak. It's not impossible. We
      don't have to drink booze distributed by elephant polo sponsors or wear a
      Cartier watch on our next dinner out. We can also let those sponsors know
      that we won't be patronizing them ever again. We can also point out to our
      children that elephants don't like to made to play polo, or chase tigers
      with tourists on their backs, or that female elephants don't like to hump
      one another at a public circus (well, better leave that point for the older
      kids).

      There are also many many websites popping up with more information, one
      notable being *http://www.stopelephantpolo.com/*<http://www.stopelephantpolo.com/>,
      and you can voice your opinions on this online forum as well: *
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/animalnepal/*<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/animalnepal/>,
      and there are dozens more groups online - just use Google to learn more
      about the elephant polo industry, as well as to look for rocks on Mars.


      --
      United against elephant polo
      http://www.freewebs.com/elephantpolo


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