Boycotting means walking a very fine line. With the exception of ‘safari back riding’ in Sri Lanka and elephants found in urban areas, Elemotion Foundation does not support an across the board boycott of elephant riding. For us, it depends on the case. For example, some elephants and their human families depend on riding income to survive. In these cases, refusing to patronize riding may actually penalize these elephants. For these elephants and families, we must have positive elephant tourism alternatives available before we ask them to stop riding. On the other hand, some elephants are owned by wealthy individuals or tour operators who exploit them for more money. In these cases, boycotting riding is definitely appropriate. Unless you ask ahead of time and get a truthful answer, it is impossible to know which is the case.
Without proper background knowledge, making your decision can be very confusing. Therefore, if you decide to patronize these establishments, we recommend visiting the elephants without riding them. See the above section about how to use your time and money wisely for the good of the elephant. This will hopefully send a positive message to the operator without financially penalizing the elephants and their families.
More info at www.elemotion.org/elephant-tourism/trekking-2