Howdahs are the large metal or wooden saddles used by many elephant owners. They often come adorned with decorative and regal looking covers reminiscent of the days of the Maharaja’s but are they necessary and what are they hiding?!
Howdahs are very bad for the long term health of elephants as they are proven to cause many injuries such as;
Dehydration and Starvation
They will ultimately take years off an animal’s life. Howdahs even cause difficulty in drinking, eating and simple moving or breathing, because of the tight fitting harness, similar to a person wearing a tight corset.
Howdahs are often poorly constructed and the elephants are overloaded and worked for long periods of time, this leads to the frame rubbing their backs, causing blisters, abscesses and open wounds that can become infected.
Riding bareback or with a slightly padded blanket is an obvious, cheap solution to the Howdah issue. Combined with limiting the number of riders at any one time, this will eliminate many of the injuries that elephants working in the tourist industry suffer each year. Simple alternatives such as these will lead to the animal suffering less stress and having a longer, happier life.
text credit to MEF