Photo du Jour: An Elephant and His Mahout – Amber Fort, Jaipur, India

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.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

16 thoughts on “Photo du Jour: An Elephant and His Mahout – Amber Fort, Jaipur, India

    1. Thanks, Rachael. I can understand why it’s a complicated matter. When we were in Laos, we rode an elephant at an elephant refuge. I have yet to post about it, but we were very pleased with the aims of the organization and how they treated the elephants. They actually rescue them from the logging industry, and employ them at the elephant resort. A veterinarian was even on site to provide regular care to the beautiful beasts!

  1. Fab shot Tricia!
    The sight of these magnificent creatures ascending that hill is magical indeed, but I suspect most of them are not in the best of health. I noticed several sneezing and sniffling constantly like they had colds! Have never seen an animal with cold symptoms before! Especially not an elephant.

    1. Madhu, that’s so sad to hear this about the elephants at the Amber Fort. I didn’t ride one then, but did get to in Laos. The elephants at the elephant refuge outside of Luang Prabang seemed to be well-pampered.

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