Jaipur’s elephant tourism crushing under the weight of the pandemic

At least 8,000 families connected with elephant tourism in Jaipur have been left in the lurch, as tourism revenues continue to run dry. The families have been dependent upon 103 elephants in Hathi Gaon and in areas near the precincts of iconic Amer Fort in Jaipur.

These families — which include those of mahouts, caretakers, farmers who provide fodder for elephants, tourist guides — have been adversely affected because of lack of tourists, according to a report in India Today. Before the coronavirus-induced lockdown came into effect, hundreds of tourists used to throng the area, taking elephant rides through Hathi Gaon and the Amer Fort.

But even after monuments have been allowed to open up in Rajasthan for tourists, the fear of public visits to these monuments remain high, indicating that the trouble for the tourism sector is far from over.

Taking care of these elephants has now become extremely difficult for mahouts in Jaipur. It takes almost Rs 3,000-3,500 per day to maintain the needs of each elephant. However, the privately-managed Hathi Kalyan Samiti provides only Rs 600 per elephant.

Earlier the mahouts used to manage five to six elephant rides per day, earning as much as Rs 1,100 per ride.

Ballu Khan, President, Hathi Gaon Vikas Samiti, told India Today TV that the government should intervene. “We want the government to help us out because we would not be able to sustain for long, this way,” he said.