Responding to a command from his mahout, while ascending the walkway leading to Fort Amer, an elephant pauses.
When I visited the Amber fortress, which was built in the 1590s, I opted to make my approach on foot. Nevertheless, I found the sight of a caravan of elephants to be a timeless one.
The practice of offering commercial elephant rides to tourists visiting Fort Amer is controversial, as discussed here. And concerns for elephant welfare exist worldwide, not just in India.
This New York Times article provides an excellent overview about the ethics of riding an elephant. It’s worth noting that I did ride an elephant in Laos in 2012 — at a complex that marketed itself as an elephant sanctuary. I’ve since read articles about how many of these businesses are largely unregulated, and that elephants often suffer abuse during their training. As a result, I have not ridden an elephant since.
Observing elephants from afar is much kinder to these gentle giants. I was fortunate to be able to do this in 2017 at the Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa.
Where in the World?
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.