Saturday, February 2, 2008
Ban Elephant Rides In Amber Fort: NGOs
Thursday 31st of January 2008Animal protection groups have demanded a ban on elephant rides in Rajasthan's famous Amber Fort after two tourists were injured when the pachyderms they were sitting on tussled with each other.Amber Fort, around 12 km from here, is among the most famous hilltop forts in India. The 16th century fort built by Raja Man Singh is a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture and stands as a proud reminder of the building skills of yesteryears. Tourists usually take elephant rides to get into Amber Fort.'These elephants are forced to work overtime to ferry tourists, hence they sometimes get irritated. They have to be treated properly. They are wild animals. They are robbed of their most basic needs, including social companionship and adequate space to exercise,' Naresh Kadyan of the NGO People for Animals (PFA), Haryana, told IANS.He said the government should ban elephant rides for the benefit of these animals. 'These animals should be freed from captivity.'A German and an Italian tourist fell down from the elephants this month when they were taking a ride in the fort, though they did not receive any serious injuries. The animals tussled with each other that resulted in the fall.However, this was not the first such incident at Amber Fort. In the last few years there have been a number of incidents when pachyderms killed or injured human beings.Ten years ago, a mahout was killed by an elephant after he did not allow it to take bath in a lake. Five years ago, a youth was trampled to death when he tried to mishandle the elephant. The angry elephant threw the youth and then crushed him under its feet.In September 2005, a tourist escort, was killed and two Belgian tourists sustained serious injuries when an elephant in 'mast' tried to trample the trio under its feet.Animal activists have pointed out that elephants are highly intelligent. But animal trainers use cruel methods to force elephants to perform physically uncomfortable tricks or obey confusing commands from their masters mainly by inflicting pain and instilling fear. Many trainers beat elephants with bull hooks and keep them chained for long periods.Manish Saxena of the NGO Wing of Research in Local Development asked how long such cruelty against animals would continue in the city in the name of tourism.'We will intensify our campaign for creating awareness among tourists for saying no to elephant rides,' Saxena said.According to the NGO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), almost all captive elephants in the country have been captured from the wild. They were forcibly separated from their natural homes and families. Captive elephants suffer from chronic physical ailments, social and emotional deprivation which result in their premature death.'Elephants belong to the wild,' PETA said in a statement.

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