Target Training – What, Why and How

In our sixth Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas #ElephantProfessional lecture, Dr Gerardo Martinez, the initiator of target training at our foundation, explained the history and significance of this unconventional training method.

A good mahout is not just the caretaker of an elephant, but they are also a companion of the animal and would know it inside and out. Therefore, an elephant always listens to its own mahout more than any other human.

The bullhook is a very common tool that the mahout uses to control the elephant. Screenshot from Dr Martinez’ lecture.

But when it comes to treating their injured partner, a mahout often still has no choice but to apply significant pressure with their traditional tool – the bullhook – to overshadow the elephant’s fear, stress, pain and discomfort.

Dr Martinez, however, conditions the animal to suppress its own uncertainties instead.

“The main thing about this technique is if the animal do what I need, what I like, the animal is going to receive something nice in return,” said Dr Martinez.

The animal receives a reward for following the command and suffers no punishment when it fails to comply.

Screenshots from Dr Martinez’ lecture.

Learn more about this technique with Dr. Gerardo Martinez now.

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily represent Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.