Exposing the dark side of Indonesia Tourism

Exposing the dark side of Indonesia Tourism

Despite the supposed ban of horse-drawn carriages in 2010, according to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), this transport method remains a popular tourist attraction throughout Jakarta in 2017.

At first glance, these carriages seem like a fun and functional way to get from A to B, escaping the scorching Indonesian heat. It doesn’t take long to realise however, just how inhumane and cruel this tourist attraction really is.

Telltale signs start with the visible malnutrition of the horses, causing protruding rib-cages from their small frames. Hauling passengers around the city, these animals gasp for air while trotting on the uneven and hardened streets of Jakarta. It’s clear these horses are in distress. Wielding whips or canes, carriage owners push their horses to extremes as they battle the consistent 80 per cent humidity and 30 degree heat. Adding to the fire, hundreds of cars and mopeds zoom past, leaving behind dangerous fumes for these poor animals to inhale.

It’s no surprise this mistreatment has sparked outrage from Indonesian animal rights groups, pushing for an intervention from local Government to regulate the industry or to enforce a wider-scale ban all-together. Since it was established in 2008, JAAN has continuously voiced its concerns about the mistreatment of Jakarta’s horses, posting on their website that “ The carriage horses’ welfare are of much concern to us as they are pushed over their limits with little care provided.”

Horse Story 2.2

HEAVE: Tourists enjoy a quick trip in the shade.

JAAN goes on to say that often these owners have little knowledge about proper animal care, leading to very early deaths and the onset of deadly diseases. JAAN has continuously attempted to shut-down the horse carriage attraction but has found no success. Similarly in Mumbai, where these Victorian-style horses are most common, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have voiced their concerns, complaining to authorities in Mumbai calling on lawmakers to “put a stop to cruel horse-drawn carriage rides”.

While an outright ban in Jakarta doesn’t seem likely, due to failed bans in the past, the best solution might be for tourists to boycott the carriages all-together, leading to a lack of demand and the downfall of income to carriage owners.

It’s not all bad news however, if a ban does come through, JAAN says it’s prepared, having recently developed a proper care centre for the horses, on donated land in West Jakarta.


MISTREATED: This poor horse takes a breather while its owner searches for a new fare.

Drew Timbs

Drew Timbs is a member of the Indonesia 2017 team and a student at the University of Queensland.