Adventure Travel Abroad

Black Tusk | The Ugly Truth of Elephant Riding

Black Tusk | The Ugly Truth of Elephant Riding

[Music] [Music] behind Thailand’s greatest jewel hides a dark secret this is the behind-the-scenes that the elephant tourism industry doesn’t want you to see it’s the shocking reality that majority of elephants in Southeast Asia face perhaps even more shocking is that it’s uni the traveler who is unknowingly supporting the torture and abuse of these beautiful creatures before an elephant can be ridden perform in the show or behave in any manner that’s unnatural it must first have its spirits broken this process is called the page on or also known as the crush directly translated the page on means to split the elephant’s body from its spirits essentially to make the elephants soulless in order to achieve this baby elephants are taken away from their mothers and kept in isolation for days to weeks at a time they are tied down starved and beaten until their will to live is crushed it’s at this point that the elephant is ready for the tourism industry fortunately this cruel practice doesn’t represent all elephant businesses there’s a few bold individuals we’re defying the norms and leading the forefront in improving the welfare of these creatures this is our story of joining one of the world leading elephant rights groups in rescuing two elephants from a lifetime of injustice my name is Christian LeBlanc and for the past year I’ve been making travel videos on YouTube full time this passion started with the University exchange that brought me to Bangkok Thailand I began creating simple videos using just a GoPro to share my travels with friends and family but this hobby of mine slowly introduced me into the world of filmmaking On January 2016 I traveled to Koh Samui Thailand where I saw a scene that would rock me to my core as I was exploring the island by scooter I came across an elephant trekking park on the side of the road I decided to pull over and check out what was deemed one of the top experiences in Thailand the fun elephant experience that was shown on Facebook and Instagram was completely different from the reality what I saw that day was a holding cell for mentally ill elephants most of them chained so tightly that they stood in their own feces with only about 5 feet of chain their movement was completely restricted but many of the captive elephants made the exact same rocking motion with their trunks being spun in a continuous circle you didn’t have to be an animal expert to read that the cries from the elephants were being made out of frustration and anger elephants are beloved around the world but for some reason there was very little being covered on this topic why was nobody talking about the physical and mental abuse inflicted onto these innocent animals with the incredible support of my YouTube audience enough money was raised for my friend Blake and I to give these animals the voice they need after traveling halfway across the world we arrived at elephant nature park in Chiang Mai Thailand elephant nature park is one of the leading forces in the elephant rights activism and since 1996 they have rescued over 200 abused elephants to better understand the business it’s essential to understand the leadership the founder in the face of elephant nature park is summed when Tyler but she mostly goes by the name of lek when lek was just 16 years old she saw an elephant logging camp where the elephants were being used for intensive labor to pull logs from one place to another seeing the elephants in such brutal working conditions broke Lexx heart and it was at this point that she realized that she was going to dedicate her life to improving the welfare of these animals when she was just a young server lek was setting aside some money so that she could actually buy her first elephant when she finally had enough she rescued one from the circus this was just the start for her [Music] [Music] when I first found elephant I saw them you know like a zombie they stand still some of them walk circle when they are right there not even they not even want to move and rescue one baby elephant from the from the circuses chuckle it is for three and half year after we take the chain our Pralay she stay with us for five months she still kept the leg like that and jump like a kangaroo she tried to kill five previous mejor from from her circus when she arrived here today and as you see what gender and Roy in the independent and Roy stop one Lac was extremely kind and she showed us around the park introducing us to the different herds and telling us of the different stories of each of the elephants just like people there were certain elephants that lack had a stronger bond with than others after spending just a couple days of the sanctuary we were extended the offer of a lifetime lek and the Elephant Nature Park team invited us to join them on a rescue mission to save two elephants from the syringe of Thailand [Music] 860 kilometres and about 14 hours of driving through the night we had arrived in Suren at sunrise as we drove through surin it became apparent that this was a city that was profiting on the abuse of elephants this is the sad reality most Southeast Asian elephants faced with elephants or they’ve possible something for a literal trick this program should be stopped right away they should have they shouldn’t be exist [Music] let explain that if you provide for natural behavior you do see healing a lot of the elephants will show up at the sanctuary without any families but very quickly they become pairs they become trios and they join other herds eventually you see a lot of the stereotypical behaviors work their way out the rocking back and forth comes to a stop and the formerly aggressive elephants become much more gentle and loving their ability to socialize with other elephants is critical [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] is a newest program in on attending that a lot of stress that men especially when I have to work to fight against of the anymore forty in the country dance have no law for the enemy law especially for the elephant business is only thickness that man we have a lot of money to talk and then they start to talk about abuse behind is not a good woman [Music] when we arrived we saw the two elephants that we had driven across the country to rescue boon me and Bob on the two elephants were being watched by a couple of Muppets their relationship was one of submission the men carried sticks to control the elephants by hitting them in their sensitive places like behind the ear at this point the elephants were still in the possession of the trekking business and there was a feeling of uncertainty as to how the deal was going to go down the eldest elephant was the one that caught Elephant Nature Park Zoo tension they had heard news of her collapsing of exhaustion from giving tourists rides and a crane had to be brought in to lift her back up so she could continue to work it was almost time but first the Elephant Nature Park team had to set up the rescue vehicles I asked lek if she thought there would ever be an end to the elephant trekking industry what she left me with was a very powerful statement what the traveler asks for is what the traveler gets it’s a very heavy reminder that we need to travel responsibly with a conscience for others too large trucks were set up with padding and bracing so that the elephants were less likely to fall during transportation the elephants would stand the entire trip so it’s very important they had support large logs were used to give them something to bear the weight a green canopy was also tied on top to prevent the hot Sun from beating down on their backs for what would almost be a 25 hour ride home the elephants and they’re unfriendly my boots walked them over with chains around their necks the owners of the elephants and elephant nature park met face to face the Elephant Nature Park team brought out two large bags stuffed to the top with 1000 baht bills the money exchanged hands and the next few minutes went by very slowly finally the owners gave a sign they confirmed that the money handed over was good and I immediately felt relieved the elephant owners and elephant nature park exchanged handshakes and a few other gestures of good faith by no means can I take any credit for the work that elephant nature park has done here but it was amazing to share that victory with them the best way that is for the people to help the elephant firstly spread the word it’ll get to the other who didn’t know especially if if they really loved and a friend and cab or elephant that should tie it to the other two traveling to see that a funded restful [Music] the next five hours Blake and I wrote on top of the truck hanging out with the Elvis elephant wouldn’t meet when night hit Blake and I went inside the truck to sleep but elephant nature parks Mahmoud stayed with the elephants through the night this was their first chance to build a bond with the elephants and to let them know that they were loved once again we drove through the night and into the day as we approached Chiang Mai the Sun became increasingly hot and difficult on the elephants luckily only about a few minutes later we were hit with a massive rainfall giving the elephant’s a much-needed break from the heat I never do when I want to do something I focus on that it’s not easy enough to work that elephant is not a fairy tale there’s a lot of problem we can’t expect the lik generation to be your kind of peaceful may be wanting anything to be ten we have to chain from our hand look fit for the next generation close to twenty five hours later the elephant’s arrived at their new home with arms wide open elephant nature park staff and the media watched as the two elephants slowly backed off the truck they were now going to live very different lives than they had ever before today Bumi and Bob on live happily at Elephant Nature Park and just a few days after their arrival the inseparable duo became a trio when one of the lonesome elephants joined their herd today the three can be found playing in the mud swimming in the river and eating copious amounts of fresh fruit the message that I read the clear is from lek is that these are not animals that can be domesticated our attempt to train and control them is causing them physical and mental abuse but luckily you have the power to stop this abuse with a majority of elephants today being used in the tourism industry the treatment they receive is directly related to the businesses we support when we ride an elephant we reinforce the abusive practices of elephant crushing when we take our money to places like elephant nature park we signal to the other businesses that this is what the tourists wants ultimately it’s the travelers dollar that decides which businesses stay and which of them go there are three easy steps that you can take to creating a better future for these elephants now the first step is that we need to avoid the businesses that promote unnatural interaction with the elephants these are the businesses that have their elephants and chains that use them for tracking it for shows and essentially treat them as if they were a ride we need to avoid these businesses but simply avoiding these businesses is not enough we actually need to take it a step further and we need to find the businesses that support the elephants that treat them well and allow them to socialize with friends and family we need to actually financially back them and in doing so other businesses will follow essentially it’s the travelers dollar that defines the future of the elephant tourism industry the third and final step is that we need to tell our friends and our family we need to let the next set of travelers know that that seemingly innocent photo sitting on the back of an elephant is actually causing a whole lot of destruction there’s a lot greater implications than most people realize and that’s on us we need to share that message the power of this message lies in your hands and without you we cannot share it take this video and share it on your Facebook put it on your Twitter and even message it to your friend of yours who’s coming to Thailand when done right elephant tourism can be the most rewarding experience in all of Southeast Asia but it is up to us to make sure that the future of elephant tourism is one that we’re proud of we have just gotten to the end of black tusk and I have so many thank yous to spread around because this was not made possible by one person but by many a huge thank you to liquid elephant nature park you were the reason this documentary is half of what it is a massive thank you to Liane foggerty for providing her lifetime research in the industry we wouldn’t know what we knew about the elephant’s without her so thank you so much a massive thank you to my YouTube audience for financially backing this project I also want to thank PETA for providing us with the elephant’s pledge on footage which is the not so enjoyable footage to watch but we couldn’t have gotten it without them so thank you and lastly a massive thank you to Blake de vie for being the incredible videographer and filmmaker that joined me on this trip he is one of the most talented people I know and I couldn’t have done it without him thank you so much for watching make sure to share this video because without you we don’t have a voice you

Reader Comments

  1. Black Tusk is back after being removed from YouTube by the very businesses it was made to expose.
    It just goes to show that this is a fight worth fighting.
    Make sure to share this video with your friends, family and anyone who plans to visit Southeast Asia.

  2. Well done , very sad for these great animals ..we can change…. the 1 most detrimental thing to both animals and humans alike that we all can do is, control our human birth rate … exploding human populations will only lead to one thing, collapse …


  4. Hey Christian, its amazing that you are trying to create awareness to this horrible practice. I suggest you should become vegan because you extend the care to all living things not just elephants. The meat and dairy industry is just as bad as Elephant riding. Please do further research to better understand Veganism.

  5. Thank u for this. Recently been to phuket and saw an elephant show which i regret. I support ur cause.

  6. I plan to go to Thailand at the end of the year. I did want to ride an elephant and take pictures with tigers but I now realise it's unethical. Thank you.

  7. Govt .??does th govt of these countries know about cruelty to animal sleeping govtstop circus watching stop animal riding

  8. Thank you for sharing this video, I was planning for a trip in Thailand in the next few days, and elephant riding was one of the activities that I'm looking forward to do, but after watching this video, I no longer feel like riding elephant, I never knew that some tourism organization did this to the elephants, what a shame !. This is a good video to educate the people about what's really happening out there. Keep up the good work ! cheers !

  9. After reading your comment: Shame on you YouTube!!! How dare you remove something soooo important, soooo critical Youtube should be shutdown with the honest and forthright ppl running a new platform for truth and awareness!!! Stop shutting ppl out bc you’re paid to, stop silencing critical voices!!! I guess it’s time to shut YouTube down and create a transparent platform! Ugh that’s disgusting!!! How dare us humans, not so far removed from the wild we once relished that we should feel free to view ourselves as superior, yet we abuse and contribute to the abuse do to our own distinction that we are unlike our distant relatives!!! We all stem from one tree, it’s gross and evil on our part to not only participate in abusing these amazing animals but in humane to pay and support in more ways than one just to ride a captive and deeply hurt elephant! Thanks for the awareness and for those on trips looking for an experience, rather than encourage more abuse why not step in and demand change. Bare minimum refuse the opportunity to “ride” them when reality is you’re another mean person the elephants would like to toss several hundred feet into the air! This needs to become global and our unfortunate footprints of the passed need to become healing hands that protect, preserve and offer bananas!!! We remember what human slavery did and grossly still does in some parts, now let’s respect our family tree no matter the distance in genetics and time! We owe them land, natural resources like food and rivers, we owe them protection from these inhumane “humans”!

  10. I am visiting Thailand this year and was thinking about visiting elephants, but I had no idea of the treatment they take… Thanks for letting us know

  11. Why do you have to splice in footage of Elephant abuse, trying to make it seem like you saw it as part of your Koh Samui trip? If its your trips real footage, why not tell the Truth of where is originated. Admit it, you didnt see the footage of the horribly treated elephants during your trip or you would have had complete continuity.
    You show an elephant in distress then making it seem like it was part of your trip (3:00 into the vid). Then you splice that to a vid showing a flash of an elephant then YOUR FACE to make it seem like you saw the Abluse. (When you freeze the vid at 3:02 Strangely the elephant structures CONCRETE pillars TURN INTO wooden pillars. Hmmm Caught!!!) All the while saying 'You didnt have to be an elephant expert to read that the cries of the elephants were being made out of frustration & anger"

    Come on Dude Booooo Boooooo #BigTimeFake

    If its real it will stand on its own merit, and you dont have to "MAKE" it seem like you discovered and saw it yourself.

    Booooooo Boooooo

    This "Doctored" film makes me suspicious that you are just trying to Milk Money from Gullible Caring People.

    Sad Dude, really Sad

  12. So heartbroken to see all of the torture that these beautiful animals endure…I had no idea this was happening… thanks for sharing this video! God bless this woman and all that follow in her footsteps!!

  13. Incredible.I've watched your other videos & can't wait to volunteer at Lek's elephant nature park! I am visiting Theailand in September, and believe me I won't be riding an elephant! Thank you!

  14. wow, mankind can be so unkind. this video should be shown in every zoo, every social media platform, and in every language. and only those that are true sanctuarys. should anyone go to! and only to those because those elephants in sanctuarys can not go back to the wild. bless you christain, this is the best video u have made! now its up to US to spread the word!

  15. There is an elephant orphanage called Uda Walawe NP Sri Lanka that are raising the babies for captive breeding for the government ie: temple elephants, pageants & tourism….so not so many are taken from the wild. 😖😖😖😡😡😡😰😰😰

  16. We have such a cruel world it is my dream to Ride an elephant but if they’re going to be hurt I don’t want to I am in tears

  17. I've been to Thailand and I took your advice from your travel videos. You must get this message to bigger Instagramers and youtubers this message Must be bold and heard!

  18. Beautiful story, and great work documenting it independently. I have just visited the Save Elephant Foundation website and made a donation thanks to you and your video. I hope to visit there someday too! Thank you for making this film.

  19. Shout out to Lost LeBlanc for making this film. Im a vet student and went to Elephant Nature Park a few years ago where we were shown videos of the pajan. It is heart breaking to know that this happens, but I am so happy that people like you are brave enough to produce films like this and get it out to the world. Amazing work, thank you! Everyone needs to be aware of this, and in general, we need to be more aware of other issues in the world as travellers!

  20. The saddest and happiest video I’ve seen today thank God for that lady and her heart 😭😭😭😭 thank you for putting this video out!

  21. What does "rescue" mean? Do you steal the elephants? Must be hard to unnoticable just take 2 elephants without the owner noticing? Buy them? Are they given away for free?

  22. Elephant is Thailand national animal, I don't understand why Thai government shutting their eyes about this. I'm Thai myself and it hurts my feelings. Start fundraising for these elephant please, LeBlanc.

  23. I am so pleased I got to see this before my trip to Thailand. As a direct result, my family is now going to make their way to the Elephant Nature Park and support this excellent cause instead of the other options. Bravo Zulu on an excellent documentary.

  24. How on earth I didn’t see this before😔 I strongly agree everything about this video. Keep sharing and educating others👍

  25. 11:08 – I know elephants are such intelligent animals. If you saw the trail of tears on its face you’ll assume those are tears of hope. Hopeful that it was saved. Hopeful that it had another chance to really experience the life it deserves. I love these gentle giants so much. Personally saw them up close in Thailand & I broke into tears knowing what they had been through. If you guys are ever in Thailand & want to experience an experience you’ll never forget, please volunteer at Elephant Nature Park. 😭❤️

  26. I suddenly choked up when the bags of money hit the ground to spark the transaction. Powerful images. Nice work man! Keep it up… What's next?? 😀

  27. What you are doing is GREAT. You can take it even one step further: if you care about the animals, then stop eating them, stop drinking their milk, eating their eggs and GO VEGAN! Those animals are going through hell as well. The only difference is that after a life of torture they end up on your plate… Not to mention that eventually they will make you ill… Trusting you to make the right decision! Much love and your videos are awesome! 🙂

  28. 🌹thank you for helping the elephants ❤️, I couldn’t finish the video 😢, I never was in a circus because of this , poor animals 😥😥😥

  29. Thank you for this video Christian… I am still learning the art of film making, I will learn more and get good at this art and I will most definitely make something this important and eye-opening… thanks for the Inspiration…

  30. Thanks for exposing such businesses, it's such a magnificent creature and see them chained and perform petty tricks for handful of money is just heart breaking. I support the cause, of all the platforms I believe that YouTube should atleast make a honest decision to let this video be. I am never taking an elephant ride.


  32. Very informative video. Really nice of u to film and share this.

    But how about the chickens, cows, pigs, fish etc, which end up on our plates, after living miserable lives, only to be slaughtered?? Is our kindness only reserved for dogs, cats, elephants???

    Hope not.

  33. Thank you lost Le Blanc 🙏 I was about to book an elephant ride but now cancelled! I never knew this, I thought they were like horses but looks like elephants are not the same

  34. ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤                                                                                       

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  35. Nice vidéo but Why not sensibilise tourist go to show pay for see thoseelephant suffers? If the causes of the show is not stop bad guys will continue abuse on elephants!

  36. Thank you for posting. Is there a list of better places to go in Chaing Mai to see elephants? How do I know ahead of time if I'm going to a place that supports what your saying in the video? Thank you.

  37. I am saddened to know I contributed to this industry in my travels 30 years ago when I rode in Chiang Mai. I know were I to visit today, I'd support Lek's place. Thank you for your efforts.

  38. Elephants are so talented when there abused they can't talk we have to talk for them are you kidding the people abused elephants I wish there dead but this wonderful lady helped the elephants!thank you for saving the elephants I love elephants who else does to??

  39. I just returned from a trip to Thailand and I had the chance to meet a few elephants in a honest and kind way, where we observed them take baths and eat fruits. They are such beautiful animals, this video breaks my heart💔 I support this mission.

  40. Wow, thank you so much for making this short documentary on elephant riding. I had no idea that elephants were being abused and exploited like this. What an eye-opening video to watch. Now, I know if I ever go to South East Asia I will never ride an elephant but instead try to go to an elephant sanctuary park.

  41. What an amazing video!! Thank you for making this ……many don't believe the abuse till they see it!! Why isn't this video on major networks!!

  42. Thank you for doing this! Next can you educate people on tigers and lions! My hope is all animals will be kept in their natural habitats.

  43. Thank you for this video, I shared it on my FB. I hope that someday these practices, enslavement and torture of elephants will disappear, and instead tourists or locals will visit more and more places where elephants feel free.

  44. I still support elephant riding! I love it. Someone else can take the high ride cause I’m not giving up a great elephant ride experience for some stupid animal conscience.

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