On November 4th and 10th, Action for Elephants UK hosted the UK premiere of Love & Bananas at the Hackney Picturehouse.
We were thrilled to have with us at both screenings Lek Chailert, world-renowned founder of Elephant Nature Park,who held a Q&A session after the film.
Attendees included representatives from the travel and tourism sectors, as well as NGOs, and we were delighted to also welcome a representative from the Thai Embassy.
Love & Bananas tells the true story of an elephant rescue in Thailand. After a wait of nearly three years, the film’s director Ashley Bell joined a team of elephant rescuers led by Lek Chailert in a daring mission 480 miles across Thailand to rescue a 70-year-old partially blind elephant from a trekking camp and bring her to freedom. Join them on their remarkable journey of courage and compassion, which also sheds light on the terrible plight of captive Asian elephants.
All screenings of the film were in aid of Lek’s Save Elephant Foundation, which is pioneering ‘saddle-off’ programmes to convert elephant activities that involve brutal treatment, such as trekking and performing, to ethical ventures where elephants are treated humanely. This movement is transforming the face of elephant tourism across Thailand, as elephant owners see for themselves the success of camps that have converted to the saddle-off model and one by one commit to making the change themselves. Save Elephant Foundation is there to help and support them in making the transition.
Lek has recently acquired more land for ENP and is taking elephant conservation one step further, by fostering a complete hands-off approach that allows elephants to roam freely and only be observed by tourists at a distance.
Ethical tourism in all sectors is gaining ground, as people learn about the grim reality behind wildlife tourism. Today visitors want to see elephants in their natural setting, untethered and free to roam, not subject to the horrific abuse involved in making them docile for tourists. The tourism sector has a key role to play in helping to end this abuse, by banning all such elephant tourism experiences and joining in a united, industry-wide commitment to support, promote and sell only ethical ventures. Only through such action will changes be made in the destinations.
These special screenings gave tourism reps the opportunity to learn about the saddle-off programme and to meet and talk to its inspirational founder Lek Chailert. We hope these attendees left the event with a deeper understanding of the issues and a commitment to promote and sell only ethical experiences.
Due to the overwhelming response to the announcement of the first London screening, additional screenings were added in other locations: Liverpool (6 Nov), Manchester (7 Nov) and Exeter (17 Nov)