Elephant joy rides! (Or is it?)

This year I attended the Jaipur Literature Festival for the second time and already felt like a pro (Note to self: write a blog on it soon). I was there for only two days, and so I chalked out the events that I wanted to attend well in advance. Being a self claimed movie buff, one event that I was particularly looking forward to, was a movie screening.

Detail of the movie:

The title of the movie was ‘Where the Elephant Sleeps‘. It is a documentary about agony of elephant joy rides at Amer Fort, Jaipur. Directed by a German movie maker, an animal activist, and an elephant lover, Brigitte Uttar Kornetzky.

The movie explored the reality behind animal joy rides that are so popular at Amer Fort. How they are tamed in unhygienic and unsafe conditions at Hathi Gaon, a village in the outskirt of Jaipur. The people manages the elephants absolutely for tourism purposes and they try do so by incurring minimum expenses. The elephants are made to work all day long and are given very little food. Even the medical facilities given to them are negligible. In case of ailments, the elephants are not even taken to vets, as they cannot afford its cost. In such situations, the health of this mighty animal deteriorates at an alarming rate. Sadly, the people who tame these elephants cannot fathom the injustices they are doing to the elephants. For them, these animals are just a mean to earn livelihood- however wrong it may be.

The film evocatively raises this issue and successfully creates an impact.
Next day at Amer Fort, I saw how much of a thrill elephant rides are. A ride till the Sun gate costs around 900-1200 INR. Because of the long climb, many foreigners were availing the rides. It is only because of its growing popularity that elephants are compelled to live in Jaipur, whose weather is too harsh and not at all ideal for the animals. It is depressing to even think about what these elephants go through in the name of tourism.

This photo was taken at Amer Fort, Jaipur. Sure an elephant ride looks royal, but we should see the reality behind it that exists.

The film made me question every animal joy rides existing in every corner of this world. Do everywhere animals are harshly treated and trained to make them fit for tourism? If yes, will you avail them next time?

PETA and many animal activists are working to eliminate such inhuman practices. Many petitions and PIL have been filed too to ban these practices. But we all know how slow these things work. So, instead of waiting around for law to do its part, we should know that as an individual we too hold a great power. A power to make such use of animals redundant. We can do this, if we choose not to take these rides, baths or whatever ‘shit’ that they sell us in the name of tourism.

So next time before you pose for those Instagrammable pictures, will you stop for a while and think about those poor souls who can’t even speak out in agony?

Stubbornly optimistic, a listener of the universe and follower of my dreams. Coffee, smell of new books, long walks, old melodies, good sense of humour, and poetry light me up. I want to be happy when I grow up.

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