Elephants are being abused for tourist rides at Amber Fort, India

Posted on 15 August 2016 by

Julie Middelkoop

in the Animals in the wild blog

In his first guest blog, Shubhobroto Ghosh, our Wildlife Projects Manager in India, writes about elephant abuse witnessed at Amber Fort, the popular tourist attraction in Rajasthan

Unfortunately, the scale of the elephants’ abuse and the hidden suffering behind these rides is lost on many.

Captured from the wild, often as babies, these animals 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.

an abused elephant kneels on the floor with damaged feet

An Amber Fort elephant, with damaged feet from carrying tourists, kneels on a concrete floor

Studies have shown that the elephants at Amber Fort in Jaipur - numbering in excess of 100 - show multiple health problems. These include foot injuries, damaged eyes and general fatigue caused by their unnatural activity.

The elephants' diet is often nutritionally inadequate, barely fueling 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 and improve elephant welfare. 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 walks across a range of 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.

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