News ≫ Peggy Preston returns from Sri Lanka and India trip to help the Asian elephant

Peggy Preston returns from Sri Lanka and India trip to help the Asian elephant

May 27, 2016
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YVETTE BATTEN Take elephant rides while overseas, particularly Sri Lanka and India, off the bucket list. Okato yoga teacher Peggy Preston has just got back from a four-week trip where she learnt about the cruelty elephants endure so tourists can ride them. “The process of capturing elephants is pretty cruel. If they’re going to get them, they get them from the wild.” Captors either snatch babies and fight off their families or violently obtain adults and torture them into submission. Elephant numbers, particularly in Sri Lanka, are at crisis point because of clashes in urban areas, deforestation and cruelty. In 1990 there were 12,000 wild elephants in Sri Lanka, now there are about 4000. “They could very easily see the extinction of elephants on their island.” Preston joined film-maker Phil Price, the director and founder of elephant conservation charity Saving Ganesh.”We put in a lot of miles and we visited all kinds of wildlife areas, some national parks, some private land,” she said. “Then we went to elephant orphanages bad and good.” This included Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. “It’s prison for those elephants. They’re paraded around, they’re poked, they’re jabbed.” After her trip, Preston intends to focus her energy on highlighting the cruelty animals face at temples, which keep them for ceremonies and displays. “They do not know how to control them besides negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement for a male elephant means being chained up all the time. “There’s big problems. They’re way overworked by people who don’t know how to take care of them, or feed them properly or hydrate them.” It’s slowly changing though. The Koyikkal Palliyara Bhagavathy Temple at Kumarapuram in India, has publicly declared they’ll not use elephants in their ceremonies, so Preston started a petition to thank them. Preston visited the temple, one of the first to adopt such a policy, and said they were pleased they made the decision not to use elephants. Preston intends to go back to India and Sri Lanka in April next year and co-host an elephant conservation yoga retreat to raise the profile of the charity and the plight of the elephants.

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