Surin city doesn't have much to say for itself until November, when the provincial capital explodes into life for the Surin Elephant Round-up, during which the city hosts giant scrums of pachyderms
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For many people, riding on the back of an elephant in Thailand is the ultimate bucket list experience. However, there’s now overwhelming evidence to support claims by animal welfare experts that this form of tourism is not only unsustainable, but ultimately harmful for Asia’s gentle giants.
You can barely turn a corner in Thailand without seeing a billboard touting elephant rides or shows, but, bafflingly, the nation has yet to implement laws to protect its captive elephant population. Unbeknown to many travellers, newly-captive and captive-born Asian elephants are traditionally subject to systematic abuse in order to ‘train’ them to accept riders and perform in shows. It might also come as a surprise to learn that elephants don’t have very strong backs. Experts claim that adult elephants can only support a maximum of around 150kgs on the middle of their back for up to four hours per day, but many of Thailand’s elephants work eight hour shifts, carrying two riders at a time. Metal seats, which tend to be used over lighter bamboo versions, add an extra 50kgs. And this is before factoring in whether these elephants have adequate access to water, healthy food (not just sugary bananas handed out by tour operators) and shade.
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