Abu Camp, based in the Abu Concession in Botswana, has closed its elephant riding activity after twenty years, due to new Government legislation.
Named after the orphaned elephant, Abu, the camp has become a hub for elephant research, where experts and researchers come to observe the herd and their habitat. The camp’s vision has been to look after elephants that were either orphaned or wounded, and where possible, return them back to the wild. However, some have chosen to remain at the camp, which has over the years, formed a herd; a more organic approach when compared to other elephant sanctuaries seen around the world, where babies are taken away from their mothers at a very young age. India in particular is coming under severe public scrutiny of late.
This is a big change for Abu Camp, as elephant riding is what it became known for in Botswana, becoming one of the most desirable camps to visit and attracting clientele from all over the world.
A press release by Abu Camp stated that ‘The Camp will continue to focus its programme on respectful, less intrusive forms of elephant interaction and education consistent with the highest industry standards, including its immersive walking-based experience.’
And so guests may walk with the elephants, but riding, which has becoming increasingly frowned upon, is now illegal in this conservation-lead country.
This recent change was brought on by Botswana’s Minister of Environment, TK Khama. Botswana is among those at the forefront of African elephant conservation, refusing to sell its stockpiled ivory and banning hunting all together throughout the country; something that no other Southern African country has done.
Daniel Turner from Born Free told us, ‘It is welcomed news that Abu Camp is ending its elephant rides and it is becoming globally unacceptable to ‘domesticate’ elephants and use them in tourism activities. The largest terrestrial mammal, highly intelligent and social, these animals should be admired for their natural attributes and observed in their natural environment.’