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Protecting the Herd

To mark Responsible Travel Week (8-14 February 2016) Explore has removed elephant riding from all of its itineraries. This decision was made following lengthy discussions with a range of experts including the Born Free Foundation and Mahouts Elephant Foundation.

Elephants are not domesticated and in captivity they have been ‘broken’ or trained to behave in a certain way. Elephant rides cause damage and deformities to their spines and this activity encourages illegal elephant poaching of young elephants being taken from their mothers. Poor treatment of elephants is often due to a lack of knowledge and education amongst the communities who own the animals.

John Telfer, Product Director at Explore stated, “We have spent time deliberating the matter and given a lot of thought to the consequences for the local communities and people who make their living by offering elephant rides. For this reason we shall work with Mahouts Elephant Foundation in 2016 to support their work in educating local people on how to offer alternative experiences to travellers, such as elephant walking safaris in the wild. We will also continue to look at ways we can safely take our customers to see these creatures in their natural environment.”

Sarah Blaine from Mahouts Elephant Foundation commented, “We’re delighted to be working with Explore to help them move forward with how their guests interact with elephants. Our philosophy of working collaboratively with mahouts and their communities to ensure all parties’ benefit is unique; we have a clear understanding and appreciation that the elephant’s welfare is dependent on their mahouts and their living conditions. This approach ensures that livelihoods are protected.”

Explore has a number of trips that visit Elephant sanctuaries;

Explore’s Family Asian Adventure spends 15 days travelling through Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Whilst in Chiang Mai, families will visit the Elephant Nature Park Sanctuary, one of the largest elephant conservation centres to observe the elephants at feeding time and walk with the centre’s staff to the local river to see the herd bathe in the water. Trips depart in July 2016 and cost from £2,226 per adult and £2,039 per child (minimum age 11). This price includes return flights, 12 nights’ hotel, one night train and one night guesthouse accommodation on a B&B basis, transport and the services of an Explore Leader, driver and local guides. During Explore’s 15 day Family Thai Hilltribe Adventure combines trekking to visit the hill tribes in Northern Thailand, a visit to the Elephant Nature Park Sanctuary in Chiang Maiand a relaxing break at the coastal resort of Koh Samet. A highlight of the trip is visiting the elephant sanctuary which has a nursery and hospital for sick and abandoned elephants. Trips depart in March, July and August 2016 and cost from £1,690 per adult and £1,540 per child. This price includes return flights, 14 nights’ accommodation and some meals, transfers and transports and the services of an Explore Leader, driver and local guides. For more information, or to book visit, or call 01252 884 723.


Notes to editors: Mahouts Elephant Foundation is a UK registered charity: Registered charity number 1158956 For more information about the charity, please see their website:

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