With reference to a recent report on the alleged mistreatment of elephants in Bandhavgarh National Park, many of our guests have reverted to us to have a ground report and check on the facts.
This is our version.
At no point, we intend to challenge the intention of the photographer. The objective here is to showcase the reality.
As one enters the Tala zone in Bandhavgarh National Park for the safari, on the right side is an enclosure where elephants are kept. The person who saw and photographed had no idea of the background and as we would say impressions can be deceiving, the person drew an opinion and unfortunately were not even enlightened by the accompanying guide.
Since the last one year, Bandhavgarh National Park is invaded by a big herd of wild elephants. Now, we all know that Madhya Pradesh is not a primary habitat of elephants and these pachyderms have ventured from the state of Chattisgarh and reached Bandhavgarh National Park via Sidhi.
Initially, the forest department attempted to stop this journey at Sidhi & return them back, succeed initially but over a period of time, the elephants entered the forests of Bandhavgarh National Park. This particular elephant was tranquilized and captured from an area where he had trampled and killed four villagers who were the sole bread earners of the family. The revengeful villagers were persuaded not to act and the elephant was captured alive by the forest department.
There are certain guidelines by the government where any animal, if has killed humans, should not be released in the wild and has to spend his life in a protected area. Adhering to this, the elephant was brought to Bandhavgarh National Park and is being trained to be of immense use in saving the forests in which he has lived.
Elephant patrolling through the dense Indian rainforest jungles is essential for conservation and in the fight against poachers.
No training is easy, be it humans or animals. Any such training can be heart wrenching but one thing which is wrong in that statement is that the elephant is being trained for tourism. In the National Parks of Madhya Pradesh, the primary responsibility of a trained elephant is patrolling in the deep forest where it is not possible to go by foot. The forests of Madhya Pradesh are basically moist deciduous, extremely dense in nature and cannot be patrolled only by vehicles or food. Elephants can venture into the deep forest safely where it is practically impossible to reach by a vehicle or by foot. Because of these trained elephants, the forest department can patrol inaccessible areas which is a huge deterrent for poachers. India is a country of 1.3 billion people, with 467 people living per km²,compared this to China which is just 145, USA is 35 and Russia is only 24.The cattle population in India is about 225 per km² .
This cumulates to an immense pressure on the forests in India, and still the Forest Department has managed to save it’s rich natural heritage. India still has the largest mammal on planet which is not endangered, still have Tigers which are the largest predators on earth,the numbers steadily growing and uncounted Leopards, Snow Leopards & a healthy Rhino population. And all this is due to the hard work of the Forest Department, acceptability by the local community and adaptability of the wildlife. India’s wildlife numbers are growing. India is home to over 200 endangered species, no big mammal has been lost in last 50 years, unlike other countries where forests and wildlife has got decimated.
Apologies if this seems emotional, but someone comes and sees something and without understanding the truth starts to spread news is not fair. Our Forest department has taken very serious note of this & the highest authority ( PCCF Wildlife, Government of Madhya Pradesh ) has made a statement too ( attached ).. One cannot see one incident in isolation, one has to see the bigger picture.
As a company, we do not promote elephant rides & we condemn acts like elephant rides in Amer Fort ( Rajasthan, India ) on hard stones ferrying tourists.