Book Release!

Elephant Tourism in Nepal Book Cover

A study of elephant tourism in Nepal from its origins in the 1960s to the present day, this book examines the challenges faced by captive elephants. Used as human conveyance, on anti-poaching patrol teams, as rescue vehicles, and in forestry service, elephants have worked with and for humans for hundreds of years. However, the use of elephants in tourism is a new development within Nepal. Because the health and welfare of tourism elephants is vital to the conservation of wild individuals, this book offers an assessment of captive elephant needs and an examination of their existing welfare statuses.

Numerous NGOS and INGOs are now active in elephant lives, and numerous advocacy organizations have arisen with the goal of changing tourism practices and improving captive elephant welfare. This book seeks to examine the motivations of these NGOs and INGOs, and to consider their ethical approaches to elephant health and welfare. Are the motivations of these organizations similar enough to work together towards a common goal, or are their ethical norms so different that they get in one another’s way? Using an ordinary language and ethics framework, this text aims to identify the norms of cultures and organizations and reframe them in ways which may allow for more successful interactions.

Thank you to the Culture & Animals Foundation, which has just announced their 2024 grantees:

Michelle Szydlowski received a grant for “The Complex Lives of Cultural Icons: A Captive Elephant Biography Project,” which attempts to engage with the ways in which Nepalese working elephants are defined and discussed. Using biography to share the stories of individual elephants in Nepal, Michelle hopes to demonstrate the need for individual animal agency and make their roles more visible in society. Biographies are a novel way to allow more-than-human animals to co-produce their identity, allowing readers to better assess individuals’ physical and psychological needs. Biographical writing encourages concern for animal lives and acknowledges their intrinsic rights.

Michelle holds a Ph.D. in Anthrozoology, and her current research focuses on captive elephants in Nepal, their health and welfare, and the health and welfare of the members of marginalized communities who care for them. Her research includes an examination of governmental, NGO, and INGO programs that purport to help captive elephants and how their interactions impact both population-level health and individual elephant lives.