Elephant rides banned at Amber Fort

[inline:1]Jaipur–Nearly a fortnight after an elephant at Jaipur’s Amber Fort trampled a tourist guide to death, Rajasthan government has banned all elephant rides at the fort till further notice.

The decision comes as a disappointment for tourists, for whom riding up to the fort on elephant back had been a major attraction.

“I was looking forward to the ride. It’s a bit harsh to have banned all the elephants,” said Julian Welsh, an Australian tourist.

Livelihood affected

A ride on an elephant’s back costs Rs 200 at the fort. There are 115 elephants engaged in the business.

Their owners say the ban has deprived them of their only source of livelihood.

“Feeding the elephant costs Rs 500 a day. How will we afford that now,” said Abdul Rashid of the elephant owners’ association.

NGOs working in the area maintain that the jumbos are often overworked and kept in inhuman conditions, which can make them stress prone and violent.

“The most important factor is the temperament of the elephant, because you are looking at the safety of the tourists,” said Timmie Kumar of Help in Suffering.

The government is now working out a set of guidelines for the welfare of the animals and the safety of tourists, and it can only be hoped that the rides are soon resumed.

sanjay garg

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