Elephant Riding, Sri Lanka

With Sri Lanka named as Lonely Planet’s Top Country for Travel in 2019, the rising number of tourists will only increase the suffering of the island’s captive elephants. Captive elephants are forced to work against their will, and are often isolated from other elephants, kept in chains, and beaten into submission using sharp bullhooks.

Raising Awareness with PETA

Although elephant riding has been largely condemned in places such as Thailand and India, elephant riding in Sri Lanka has not been covered much at all in media outlets. With Sri Lanka being named as the Number One Travel Destination in 2019 by Lonely Planet, we thought that it was important to publicise the cruelty of elephant riding in Sri Lanka.

Our heartbreaking footage was captured on the tourist trail in Sigiriya, where two particular elephants - like so many others across Sri Lanka - are forced to haul tourists up and down the same busy road every day.

We worked with the biggest animal-rights charity in the world, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), to shine a light on Sri Lanka’s horrifying elephant riding industry. We produced a blog post and video to engage audiences worldwide, with the video being shared across PETA’s worldwide affiliates.

The video was then licensed for use and shared by the Daily Mail, and was shared by public figures from Otara Gunewardene to Gemma Collins.

This international exposure landed the issue of elephant riding into the biggest Sri Lankan news outlets both online and in print, including the Tamil Guardian, the Colombo Gazette, Ada Derana, and the Daily Mirror SL.

Translating the Message Worldwide

European charity Open Cages requested our footage and compiled their own video on this issue. They published the video across their affiliates, meaning that the footage and its message was translated into four different languages (from English into Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish), reaching a global audience.

Open Cages’ video was also used by Anima, a charity in Denmark who translated it into Danish.

All of our footage, including the clips above, are free-to-use for anyone using them to help animal rights.