Chastise Elephant Park for Abusive Training Methods


Target: Lisette and Ian Withers, Founders of Knysna Elephant Park

Goal: Reprimand abusive training methods by Knysna’s park staff

What started out as a safe haven for abused, abducted, and distressed elephants has turned into a horrific park of cruelty, made evident after video footage emerged of Knysna Elephant Park rangers abusing baby elephants. The video, obtained by the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), shows staff members chaining elephant’s calves using iron handcuffs and baby elephants being restrained by thick ropes. Other elephants are shocked with electric cattle prods and beaten over every inch of their bodies with bull hooks.

Founded in 1994 by Lisette and Ian Withers, the Knysna Elephant Park was once a peaceful place for adult elephants and their calfs to roam freely after being confined in captivity or hunted by poachers. When Knysna staff and park rangers were asked why they abused the elephants they simply stated that it was necessary ‘to break the animals’ spirit so that they obey to humans.’

SPCA’s chief inspector Wendy Willson revealed that the elephants show obvious signs of sadness and distress after the abusive training methods are executed. Severely swollen legs and feet, open wounds, and crippling abscesses are just a few of the injuries endured by these gentle giants. The worst instance of brutality documented is that of an elephant whose snout was dismembered from its trunk after being attacked by a bull hook.

Defending their practices, staff and rangers of Knysna Elephant Park revealed cases of retaliation by elephants where members have been seriously injured or killed by the animals in the past. These occurrences are seemingly what sparked the defamatory training methods, but the SPCA argues that trained elephants kept in captivity are prone to rebellion; the best method of control is none at all, as elephants deserve to roam freely in their natural habitats.

The case has yet to be brought to court. Because of this, park rangers and staff members continue to inflict these inhumane methods of control on these compassionate creatures. Sign the petition to demand that Knysna Elephant Park end these cruel practices.


Dear Lisette and Ian Withers,

The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) obtained footage of park rangers and staff members of your elephant park inflicting unimaginable abuse on adult and baby elephants. A far cry from the safe haven you were originally striving for, the Knysna Elephant Park has transformed into a torturous facility that treats elephants like captives and severely injures them for no reason at all.

Elephants are normally compassionate and gentle creatures, but when taught to obey human order and forced to do unnatural labors turn rebellious and vengeful. Elephants are not for human entertainment — they deserve to live fulfilling lives, roaming the wilderness of South Africa doing as they please. From poaching and being hunted for their tusks to being trained for elephant-back safaris, elephants have endured enough brutality at the hands of humans.

I urge you end your inhumane practices and free these elephants now.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: frank wouters via everystockphoto

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One Comment

  1. Victoria Cole says:

    This is so tragic and similar to methods used in elephant submission in Thailand and circuses I hope that they can be reprimanded and other methods used without elephants being put at risk by giving to ruthless organisations like circuses

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