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Rajasthan Government bans the usage of 20 sick elephants for rides at Jaipur's Amer Fort

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had formed a committee to assess the health and conditions of elephants used in ferry rides at Jaipur's Amer Fort with other objectives. The expert group prepared a report which brought to the limelight worrying observations about elephants. Based on the suggestions presented in the report, the Rajasthan government has barred the use of 20 medically-unsound elephants for tourist rides in the Amer Fort.

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Assuring animal welfare, electric vehicle tours to replace elephant rides in Jaipur's Amer Fort

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has been relentlessly working on initiatives for providing relief to animals for a long time. In the latest string of developments, officials from the organisation held a meeting with the Chief Secretary of the Rajasthan Government and presented a layout of the electricity-powered royal chariots that would replace elephants at the Amer fort in Jaipur. The swanky electric vehicle tours may soon evolve as an added attraction boosting the tourist footfall at Jaipur's ancient fort.

An endeavour to ensure safety & security for the fort's visitors

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The innovative craft, which would look like a stately vehicle, will be possibly called 'Maharaja' as recommended by PETA India and Desmania Design. With the capacity of hosting four tourists in a single ride, the chariot would be constructed in a way that makes it appropriate for rugged surfaces like that of Amer Fort. The current intervention is based on a suggestion by a committee formed by the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Taking a cue from their recommendation, PETA India soon roped in the prime designing company, Desmania Design to develop the framework for the latest electric vehicle.

In a report presented to the Chief Secretary by the representatives from PETA India, it was mentioned that the elephants resorted to violent behaviour when subjected to abuse and cruelty. Numerous incidents like these lead to serious injuries, even fatalities and damage of property. Alerted by them, the organisation appealed to the Chief Secretary to implement measures focussed at protecting tourists and the general public from such issues that pose danger to their health and safety.

In relation to this, the Chief Advocacy Officer of PETA India was quoted as saying, "The respected chief secretary listened to PETA India, which represents kind people around the world and now we hope tourists and elephants will be given the royal treatment with these majestic, cutting-edge cars, which can replace animals forced to give rides."

Alarming facts in the report by the Central government's expert committee

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Aligning with the supreme court order dated March 6, 2020, the Union government had designated the aforesaid expert committee. The expert group prepared a report that brought startling information about the deteriorating health of elephants to the limelight. Out of a total of 98 elephants, 22 were diagnosed with untreatable eye problems and 42 of them had foot problems including overgrown nails and flat footpads for walking on concrete roads. Also, three elephants were found to have tuberculosis which can prove to be a deadly infection for the tourists.

While giving out suggestions, the committee included the observations of PETA India in its report. Given the fact, that the elephants are getting older and the rides have failed to attract enough tourist attraction in recent times, the expert group suggested a ban on the introduction of new elephants. In addition to this, it also recommended that elephants with chronic eye problems must not be deployed for the rides.

A step towards eliminating animal abuse & cruelty

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The Managing Director of Desmania Design delightedly stated that the organisation plans to provide an environment and animal-friendly design for the proposed vehicle and this would not just help the tourists in gaining unforgettable experiences but also facilitate the end to exploitation against elephants. With the advent of this new technology, the safety of both, the elephants and the tourists would be promoted.

Rajasthan Govt grants permission for Elephant rides at Jaipur's Amer Fort & Hathi Gaon

Rajasthan government has taken a decision to allow elephant rides in Jaipur's Amer Fort and Hathi Gaon from November 25. Earlier, a ban on elephant rides was implemented on March 18, making it really tough for mahouts to earn their livelihood in the eight-month-long lockdown. The business witnessed a downfall since the foreign tourists vanished during the period and the Indian tourists visiting the city, also reduced in number.

8,000 families are dependent on 90 elephants

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The condition of mahouts was miserable after the prohibition on elephant rides was imposed in the state, in the wake of the pandemic. Around 8,000 families in Hathi Gaon and adjacent areas are dependent on 90 elephants for the survival of this business. Mahouts, caretakers, farmers who provide fodder for elephants and tourist guides have been deeply impacted by the ban on elephant rides due to COVID-19 restrictions. The maintenance cost of an elephant is approximately ₹3000- ₹3500 per day.

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The nationwide lockdown brought the tourism of Rajasthan to a standstill and this ban has had a major impact on many families in Jaipur and near by areas. Elephant rides have always been one of the most attractive features of the Amer Fort tour. The decision will definitely bring smile on the faces of mahouts and other people, who are dependent on elephants for their daily bread and will boost the tourism of Rajasthan.

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