Highlighting the abuse of elephants at Amber Fort, Rajasthan
Shubhobroto Ghosh, Wildlife Projects Manager, India discusses the abuses that these elephants must endure to be ridden by tourists.
Among the varied offerings for tourists visiting Rajasthan, India, is the elephant ride at Amber Fort (known locally as Amer Fort). These animals promise a flavour of exotic India to many tourists, who may jump at the chance to get close to one of these beautiful wild animals.
Unfortunately, what is lost on many people is the scale of the elephants’ abuse and the hidden suffering behind these rides.
These animals are captured from the wild, often as babies, and undergo a brutal training process called ‘the crush’ whereby they are beaten and starved into submission by their handlers. They are next brought into these venues such as Amber Fort, to carry humans on their backs and become props in an entertainment display.
Studies have shown that the elephants at Amber Fort in Jaipur - numbering in excess of 100 - show multiple health problems including foot injuries, damaged eyes and general fatigue caused by their unnatural activity.
Food offered to them is often nutritionally inadequate, barely fuelling them for the steep slope they are forced to climb. They are forced to walk over concrete surfaces which cause them pain and distress.
Bearing in mind this immense cruelty - that is often promoted by travel and tour operators - a petition has been filed to the Supreme Court of India to stop this suffering. The petition has been led by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (an NGO), in a bid to stop these elephant rides.
The elephant is India’s National Heritage Animal, but the way they are treated shows complete lack of concern for a wild animal that is extremely social, sentient and ranges over 20 km in the wild every day.
We are working with travel companies to urge them to remove elephant rides and shows from their itineraries, and promote animal friendly tourism. We are also looking into a sustainable solution for these elephants in Rajasthan, so that they can experience some dignity after a lifetime of abuse.
The elephant has a rich history in India, worshipped and revered in culture and then ironically killed for ivory and illegally traded as objects of entertainment.
World Animal Protection strongly urges people to treat this majestic animal with respect so that as a wild animal, the elephant stays in the wild and does not become a cog in the relentless wheel of entertainment.