I have to say, initially, I was a bit wary of how the elephant's appeared to be treated by their guides, but as the day went on, I started to understand better. What some reviewers have classed as "cruelty" or "mistreatment" is completely misunderstood and taken out of proportion. These elephants are much loved by the people who look after them, and the instrument the guides use appears to be small blunt scythe, the blade of which I only ever saw used on vegetation. Each guide has his own elephant, and the elephants are incredibly intelligent, and are able to understand simple commands such as "go, stop, turn around, lift, pose". They even respond to their name! Our guide introduced his elephant as Priman, and whenever Priman's name was called, he would trumpet in response!
There was a baby elephant chained up near the main office (probably so he doesn't wander!), and his guide is a young boy himself, and they are both growing up and learning the trade together.
I saw no cruelty during my visit, only kindness and gentleness. The roughest treatment I saw was when Priman started to wander off the track, the guide had to push the heel of his foot into the back of Priman's ear to steer him back.
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