|Early misty morning - Elephant backed Ranger checking on a Tigers progress|
I am not normally in favour of training elephants to be ridden and most definitely not for tourism. Which (incidentally), is why you will never find elephant riding in any of our Safari packages.
The Elephants used in India's National Parks come from domesticated stock i.e. are not taken from the wild, and (from what I have seen), they are not mistreated.
I understand the cultural, historical and practical reasons that park rangers and vets ride Elephants to check on Tigers well being and to administer care.
A good example of this can be seen from a recent occasion when a sick Tiger requiring treatment had retreated deep into the forest in a place that could only be reached by Elephant.
The vet was extremely concerned and commented that the added benefit of using Elephants, was that the presence of an Elephant was accepted as a natural event in the forest and did not upset the poorly Tiger.
Thankfully the vet was able to administer care to the dehydrated Tiger in the forest, in a situation when sedating and relocating the animal would probably have killed it.
The happy end to the story is that the Tiger made a full recovery.
At the end of the day the practical realities of wildlife conservation often result in imperfect policies, which are not black and white decisions, but on balance outweigh other concerns.
|Off road - Ranger returning from checking resident Tiger|
I also have to say that when I raised my doubts about riding Elephants to a mahout he replied “but you ride horses don’t you”. He has a point, I have ridden horses and enjoy being around horses. So who am I to judge.
We are of-course talking about a handful of Indian Elephants in Nation Parks and not African Elephants. I spend an awful lot of time in the vicinity of wild Elephants in Africa, and am more than happy to just respectfully view them in the wild. Magnificent creatures, which must be treated with absolute respect, especially when on foot. There is a reason that they are one of Africas big five.
|Free roaming elephant after work|
Back in India. At least when they’re not working, the Elephants are given the freedom to roam, free grazing in the park and doing what comes naturally.
Be there. Join one of our Indian safaris in 2018.
Written by Will Fox