Jaipur, Oct. 23 : There has been a low turn out of visitors to the Jaipur city this time round. And, one of the most affected have been the jumbos whose owners are finding it tough to care for them in this difficult time.
One month into the tourist season has passed but one can find many jumbos standing idle in queue at Hathi stand in Amer village of Jaipur to carry them to historical Amer Fort. The village has about 100 elephants.
It takes about a thousand rupees a day to feed an animal whereas the daily earnings around rupees 300-400.
The circumstances are unusual, as the place is a tourist hub of Rajasthan.
Many elephant owners here opine that the decreasing number of tourists is mainly due to the global meltdown in financial markets. However, some of them believe the decrease started since the Gujjar staged demonstration. The bomb blast, which occurred lately, contributed to the reduction in the number of tourists.
The majestic elephant rides is one of the chief fascinations in the city of forts here.
According to elephant owners, it is very difficult to feed a giant animal in such critical situation, as their business is not even meeting the break-even point in earnings.
"Since then the protests on Gujjars reservation started, the arrival of the tourists is very less in number. After that these bomb blasts, the news reaches to the people all across the world through television and Internet. So very few tourists are coming and due to it our business of elephant rides is going down. Moreover, we are facing much problem due to fall in the share market," said Haji Karim Khan, an elephant owner.
"If we earn rupees 2,000 per day, only then we can feed the elephants and pay for our children's education, electricity and water bills," he added.
"It's very difficult to feed elephants. On an average, the money spent on the six elephants is around 6,000 rupees, of which we have kept two of the elephants at home, one for 12 months and other for 10 months. Other four elephants are used for livelihood. The number of our family members has increased, but we are not able to earn enough money. The problem is because the rotations of the elephant's rides can't get completed. We are not earning enough either to feed ourselves or the elephants. Everybody is in problem," said Naimuddin, another elephant owner.
During the same period in previous year, a single elephant used to do four to five rides in a day. Today, this figure has come down to one to two.
In Rajasthan, Jaipur is the only place famous for elephant rides. Hundreds of foreigners and domestic tourists ride on the elephant to visit Amer fort daily.
In Amer village there are more than 110 elephants, which are engaged in such activities. y Lokendra Singh