There's been much discussion around the treatment meted out to animals involved in tourism, especially elephants. You may have heard about the elephants in some Kerala temples who are decked up and used during religious ceremonies and festivals. These hundreds of ornately decorated creatures are paraded around the temples and streets during such events, and they draw huge crowds. Many reports and documentaries have recorded the level of cruelty inflicted upon these magnificent creatures.
Then there are the elephants kept in spice plantations in Goa whose story is much the same. These are just some instances of exploitation in the name of tourism that elephants go through every day.
So it is indeed heartening to hear that in at least one place, steps are being taken to stop the use of elephants for the enjoyment of tourists. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in collaboration with a design firm, Desmania Design, have submitted a design of an electric vehicle to replace the elephants at the Amer Fort. Called the &ldquoMaharaja&rdquo, it resembles a royal chariot and will ferry four tourists around, It is suitable for the hilly terrain that the fort is located on.
A report by PETA states that this was done following the recommendation of the committee constituted by the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to phase out elephant rides at Amer Fort. PETA India representatives also submitted a factsheet citing shocking instances in which captive elephants have reacted to their abuse at Amer Fort, leading to serious injuries, deaths, and destruction of property, and requested the chief secretary to safeguard tourists and the general public from such health and safety risks.
That's one place where use of animals for tourist entertainment is being disallowed. Here's hoping more places follow suit.