Composing Worlds with Elephants Conference, December 13-15, 2020
Captive elephants in the Sauraha area of Nepal—and those who care for them—find themselves at a crossroads. INGOs interested in the welfare of these individuals have tried, unsuccessfully, to implement a variety of sanctuary-like systems. What is missing from these attempts is any attempt to consider the actual welfare of elephants and their caregivers, not just external perceptions of welfare. There is a dearth of research into what exactly constitutes elephant welfare, so one aspect of this paper is to consolidate an overview of available studies and create a checklist of welfare parameters for captive elephants in Asian stables. However, all of these organizations claim to want ‘what is best’ for these marginalized elephant-mahout communities. What follows is an examination of the organizations who have tasked themselves with improving the lives of individuals in Sauraha, how their discourse does not always align with their practices, and how their inter-agency cooperation, or lack thereof, impacts the status of elephants and mahouts.
The video includes presentations from Panel Five: Long-lasting Bonds Under Threat. My recording starts at about 32:35, and this set of presentations is followed by a question and answer session.