Chitwan, 3 October. Dhruv Giri has been running Sapna Village Hotel in Sauraha. It has been about 10 years since he started raising elephants. Initially raising one elephant for elephant safaris, he has now raised six but is not used for elephant safaris. Why don’t all elephants qualify for safaris? Some elephants are disabled. Some elephants were injured during the safari. He still plans to increase the number of elephants.
Even if the elephant does not do the safari, Giri is happy. He said that he was able to earn money like a safari by showing the activities of elephants. For the last two years, he has been keeping the elephant in a sanctuary. Elephants graze all day in nearby Budhirapati, bathe in the river, and at other times live in the sanctuary.
A sanctuary is an open place bounded by a fence where elephants are kept without chains, where elephants perform a variety of games, dances and other exciting activities for tourists. They pay for it. It costs Rs 60,000 to Rs 100,000 per month for an elephant. An international organization is also assisting him in this work. Entrepreneurs here are also worried as elephants are in crisis.
“Female elephants are two years pregnant,” Giri said. It is not easy to increase the number of elephants. Giri says that ‘Elephant Sanctuary’ is an important factor in preventing elephants from disappearing. He says that future generations cannot be shown elephants if they are not protected in time.
To increase the number of elephants, Chitwan National Park has also set up an elephant breeding center. Elephants are also being used to protect the park. Entrepreneurs here are finding it difficult to raise elephants due to the lockdown to reduce the coronavirus. Some of the elephants hired from India have also been sent back.
A recent study by an international organization found that the number of Asian elephants is declining. The issue of animal rights that has arisen from time to time has also caused suffering to the businessmen here. Entrepreneurs here have also taken interest in the conservation of elephants by earning income from them without using them in safaris. It has been concluded that the alternative is ‘Elephant sanctuary’.
Suman Ghimire, the outgoing president of the Regional Hotel Association Sauraha, said that discussions are underway to build an Elephant sanctuary in Sauraha. “Elephant riders will walk around the park on elephant rides,” he said.
According to him, there is a debate about the plan to make the Elephant sanctuary area an open zoo model for all the elephants unfit for elephant safari. “It will also be easier for those who want to observe the day-to-day activities of the elephants,” he said.
Rishi Tiwari, chairman of the United Elephant Cooperative, says that ‘Elephant Sanctuary’ will help in professionalism and elephant conservation. He said that ‘Elephant Sanctuary’ has been operating in New Delhi, India.
There are more than 70 private sector elephants in Sauraha. The United Elephant Management Cooperative Sauraha has 55 elephants while other big hoteliers have 15 elephants.