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Elephant-back safaris stopped

- NABIN POUDEL, NAWALPARASI

Jul 29, 2017-Pioneer of eco-tourism Tiger Tops has stopped elephant-back safaris to end animal suffering. Adventure seekers will now follow the jumbos on foot to observe their activities instead of riding on their backs to sight-see in the jungle.

On Wednesday, an elephant named Chandra Kali was seen moving freely inside Chitwan National Park (CNP). A group of tourists were following her and watching her breaking off tree branches and enjoying a bath in the river. Chandra Kali has now become a tour guide.

For years, elephants were used to carry up to six people through the jungle for 2-3 hours daily. These great animals suffered to provide recreation to fun seekers. Now, Tiger Tops will use them as walking guides in the jungle.

Tiger Tops, which is now operating as Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge in Nawalparasi, said they had launched a noble initiative to end animal cruelty. CNP is famous for elephant and jeep safaris.

Since 2014, more than 100 high-profile operators have stopped selling excursions featuring elephant rides (with Intrepid Travel leading the way) and TripAdvisor stopped promoting them in 2016, according to reports.

“We have launched a noble initiative to attract tourists without giving pain to animals,” said DB Chaudhary, managing director of Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge. “Now, elephants will be tourist guides while tourists will walk to observe the jungle.”

He said that such packages were launched six months ago and that they were receiving a good response. In 2016, Tiger Tops joined forces with world renowned elephant welfare expert Carol Buckley from Elephant Aid International to introduce a new way for tourists to experience one of the most magnificent creatures of the jungle, the Asian elephant.

The new experience was elephant camp, a responsible and sustainable tourism activity under which visitors were offered an elephant adventure which highlights the natural behavior of the jumbos. Instead of traditional elephant safaris, guests were offered the experience of watching elephants living chain-free in spacious, naturalistic corrals and immersed in the their daily life from sunup to sundown.

Even after dark, the elephants’ presence will be felt as their verbal and infrasonic communications fill the night air.

Shortly after sunrise, guests will walk with the elephants on their morning excursion to the Narayani River, where the elephants will be free to graze while their mahouts (elephant drivers) cut grass to supplement their diet.

This unique experience puts guests right in the middle of elephants socializing with each other, playing, grazing and just enjoying their life, free of chains and ride duty.

Since Tiger Tops was established more than 50 years ago, it has been pioneering environmentally responsible tourism.

In the 1960s, it took the first steps to establish national parks in Nepal and shoot tigers with cameras instead of rifles. Since then, it has been continuously working for wildlife conservation in Nepal.

Published: 29-07-2017 09:32

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