Elephant tourism: An analysis and recommendations for public health, safety, and animal welfare

Journal article


Grant, R., Warwick, C., Steedman, C. and Pilney, A. (2023). Elephant tourism: An analysis and recommendations for public health, safety, and animal welfare. International Journal of One Health. 9 (2). https://doi.org/10.14202/IJOH.2023.49-66
AuthorsGrant, R., Warwick, C., Steedman, C. and Pilney, A.
Abstract

Abstract

Background and Aim: Elephants are exploited for public entertainment tourism throughout Asia and Africa. Areas of concern include public health and safety and animal welfare.

Materials and Methods: We reviewed over 500 publications and additional materials and performed a risk analysis using precautionary and preventative approaches.

Results: We identified at least 12 confirmed or potential zoonotic and other transmissible infections relevant to the elephant tourism sector, and at least 13 areas of animal welfare concern.

Conclusion: Infection and injury risks between humans and captive elephants cannot be safely controlled where close contact experiences are involved, arguably creating an unredeemable and indefensible public health and safety situation. Elephant welfare within some sectors of the close-contact interactive tourism industry continues to involve significant mistreatment and abuse. To alleviate key one health concerns outlined in this study, we recommend several types of regulation, monitoring, and control regarding interactions at the human-captive elephant interface. These include legal bans on the promotion and performance of close contact experiences, combined with strong enforcement protocols; new policies toward discouraging elephant tourism; 24/7 surveillance of captive elephants; and the adoption of independent scientific positive list systems for tourism promoters or providers regarding public observation of free-ranging elephants within national parks and protected areas.

Keywordsanimal welfare, elephant tourism, one health, public health, safety, zoonoses.
Year2023
JournalInternational Journal of One Health
Journal citation9 (2)
PublisherVeterinary World
ISSN 2455-8931
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.14202/IJOH.2023.49-66
Publication dates
Print13 Aug 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Jul 2023
Accepted16 Jun 2023
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Open
Accepted author manuscript
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Controlled
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