I had the briefest of visits to Chitwan National park in Nepal last year – I was photographing my leprosy project in the town of Chitwan and the two social workers I was with wondered if I’d like to do an elephant back ride. We went along to the entrance where they do them from.
I must say, this is quite a sensationalist image – the elephant looks particularly gaunt. Having said that, many of the elephants did look gaunt, and many of them were carrying 6 or 7 people. I hadn’t read much before about how cruel it is for elephants and what weight limits are ok for them, but as a result of what I saw, I didn’t feel compelled to ride on one and ultimately opted out.
Having said that, I’m well aware of the importance tourism has on maintaining National parks like Chitwan and the general economy of very poor countries like Nepal.