Private elephants kept for providing jungle safari services to tourists are now on verge of displacement.
With shrinking business opportunities after the COVID-19 pandemic, the elephant owners were found to have started selling or returning the tuskers rented from India.
In two years the number of elephants has reduced to 35 from 67 in the United Elephant Ride Operation Cooperative that has been providing the riding service.
Chairperson of Regional Hotel Association Deepak Bhattarai, who was also served as the former chairperson of the cooperative, said it was difficult to keep the elephants without any business.
He further noted that the displacement of tusker was occurring with no support from government front.
Entrepreneurs said it costs more than Rs 100,000 per month to keep an elephant which normally requires over two quintals of food each day.
As informed, only three elephants among those rented from India are available at CNP. Though entrepreneurs did not provide accurate data, each elephant is said to be sold out normally at the rate ranging from Rs 8 to 120 million in Sauraha.
The sold elephants are being taken to Gujarat of India. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has kept the elephant affairs in annex 1. It prohibits the trade and transport of endangered animals listed in annex 1.
With this legal provision, the owners here do not openly admit the trade of elephant. It has been very tough to rear elephants due to limited turn up of tourists to Sauraha, said chairperson of United Elephant Operation Cooperative Rishi Tiwari.
He further said the elephants are on verge of displacement from Chitwan district due to mounting pressure on feeding the mammoths.
The India government has allowed private sector to keep elephants but it is not permitted in Nepal, Tiwari commented, adding it has also compelled entrepreneurs to keep them away. "Elephants would not be evicted if the government provided assistance in insurance and grazing".
It was difficult to rear the elephants when the government even did not allow to cut stray grass to feed the tuskers, he complained.
Chief Conservation Officer of the Chitwan National Park, Ananath Baral said though CNP has demanded land for grazing elephants the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation has not yet made any decision to that end. ---
Source: National News Agency Nepal