Working elephants

Tiger Tops is a privately owned family-run business, and the elephants at Tiger Tops Elephant Camp are all privately owned elephants, which have been in Tiger Tops´ family for most of their working lives. The initiative for the establishment of the Elephant Camp was taken by the Tiger Tops family, upon realizing that there is a better way for guests to experience elephants, different from what Tiger Tops and other tourist operations traditionally offer. The elephants are “working elephants”, meaning that they carry the grass cut for them to eat back to the camp, they go out for walks and they go to cool down in the river, walks which our guests are invited to join. While these activities constitute the elephants´ working day outside the corrals, they also provide the elephants an opportunity to exercise and to expand their diet.

mahouts and grass

6 Responses

  1. Tiger Tops has taken the initiative to better the lives of their elephants by providing activities that benefit them physically, mentally and emotionally, congratulations!

  2. Any elephant that is abused and tortured in any way is NOT acceptable. These elephants are used for the benefit of tourists. Each elephant has gone through the “crush” for them to be domesticated which is a truly wicked and torturous process for any Ellie. Do not condone this treatment by visiting here. Try ENP in Chain Mai where they are truly saved from such abuse.

    • Tiger Tops Elephant Camp

      Dear Jo,

      Thank you for your comment and for your concern for our elephants. We completely agree with your first point, no elephant should be abused or tortured and your right, it is not acceptable.

      We are transitioning from the centuries old tradition of a heavy handed dominance based system of elephant management, to a more progressive way to manage our elephants for their conservation. While in Tiger Tops care, none of our elephants have be subjected to this process known as The Crush, each and all have been very well looked after. We cannot undo the past in terms of doing elephant safaris, but we believe that the elephants will have much improved living conditions with the new big corrals where they will live together in their natural groupings, and not doing rides for tourists any longer. The mahouts are undergoing training for positive reinforcement training with Carol Buckley, founder of Elephant Aid International.

      The benefit for the tourist in our new program is to experience the elephants in their natural surroundings. When tourists go for a walk with the elephants they actually give the elephant an opportunity to eat different plants and hence diversify their diet (an opportunity they would not otherwise get). The elephants are still ridden by their mahout when necessary – by necessary we mean when the mahout controls the elephants for its own safety and for the safety of village livestock, and children. For example, when the elephants go to the Narayani river to cool down they walk through villages. Here it is important that the mahout is in control, so that if anything unforeseen happens, he can stop the elephant from hurting itself or others.

      Tiger Tops is a privately owned family-run business, and the Elephant Camp is not a sanctuary for elephants, but a way of doing elephant tourism in a way that we believe is more beneficial to both our guests and the elephants. We do not receive donations or grants, but base our sustainability on a business model. It is a very new project and we have much to learn – we hope to set an example for how to do elephant tourism for the future and to be an inspiration for other private elephant owners (of which there are many in Nepal), but without support from our guests, this will be very difficult.

      ENP indeed looks like a good place for elephants, and maybe a place for us to get more inspiration. Please, if you have any suggestions, do let us know. We are open for learning from people´s experiences and happy to receive comments.

      Best regards,
      The Tiger Tops Elephant Camp Team

  3. Paige Scott

    Hello, read about you in FB page “Ban Elephant Rides and Performances”. They said you are eliminating chains and no more elephant rides. I don’t buy it when you say none if your elephants have been through the “crush” as all elephants used in the tourist industry worldwide have…but I think that is missing the point. If you are truly adopting ENP methods and Boon Lott Methods of positive reinforcement, and not chaining them up, giving them veterinary care, banishing the bullhook ( ankus) and not making them do tricks or carry people then you are taking aHUGE step towards what us tourists want. We LOVE ELEPHANTS!! but we want them to be free. Get the groups on FB to visit and back you. Ask for advice. Word gets out and the tourists will come!! Thank you for caring about the animals and caring about doing the right thing. I I ever go to Nepal, you’ll be getting a visit from me!!

    • Tiger Tops Elephant Camp

      Hi Paige,
      Thank you so much for your comment and your support. You are right about the fact that all elephants used in the tourist industry worldwide have been through the crush, and unfortunately our elephants are no exception. Our reply is misinforming – we have a new guy in communication who mistakenly thought that the crush only happened in Thailand and not in Nepal. Thank you for drawing our attention to this mistake, and please accept our apology.
      But as you point out, the future is what matters as we cannot change the past however much we would like to. The elephants are already off the chains and now spend their “off-time” in their enclosures where they get to roam around and be together with their family. They have always been given veterinary care and been fed well. As for the positive reinforcement methods this is work-in-progress, which will not happen overnight. The positive reinforcement methods are not just a matter of changing methods, it is a matter of changing an age-old culture, a very settled mindset, and strong habits with the mahouts. The mahouts are not trying to be mean to their elephant, they simply don´t know how to control them without the stick or the ankus. They are understandably a bit skeptical and also scared. That is why we first of all need to convince them and show them that it can be done, and we need to build their confidence. This is for their own safety, for the safety of our guests and of course for the safety of the elephants. This will take time, but with the help from people such as Carol Buckley, and with our group of open-minded and cooperating mahouts, we are confident that it will not take too long. They have already made big changes in their behavior towards the elephants. We hope that our guests will understand this transition period. Thank you again for your support!

      Best regards,
      The Tiger Tops Elephant Camp Team

  4. Paige Scott

    Please check this out… Written by FB group, “Educating for Nadia”. It’s a little hard to read but it is what we are fighting for.

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