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In simple terms, Elephant safari means surfing jungle on elephant. As we all know that tigers normally avoids charging on elephants thus it is popularly used for patroling purpose in tiger reserves. Elephant ride allows security team to get access to those forested areas which are not accessible by normal jeeps and thus it ensures better jungle patroling for patroling parties. This is the primarly purpose of taming wild elephants in tiger reserves. Apart from this, when these trained elephants are used by tourists for visiting through jungle areas, against a pre-decided fee, we call it Elephant safari rides. These elephant rides are of fixed duration in which Mahaout plays important role. In order to undertake such ride, tourists are required to first apply for elephant ride and on getting approval, they will get the ride.
In past i.e around year 2012, Forest Department offers a special ride plan called "Tiger Show" in which elephants were places in different core safari zones and when tiger was located, message was spread to various patroling camps and a point was fixed to safari vehicles to come. This point is the nearest possible location where tiger was spotted and safari vehicles can report. When safari vehicles reports to that point, visitors are offered the ride, against a fixed fee, charged on the spot, in cash. In this way, tourists were taken close to to the tiger location, which is mostly away from normal safari route, and shown for 5-10 minutes duration only. In this duration, tourists can take required photographs and return back. In one turn, only 3-4 tourists were taken for ride. But later "Tiger Show" program was withdrawn by department due to various internal and external reasons. It was very successful show and gives more satisfaction to those visitors, who failed to enjoy tiger sighting, during their jeep rides and felt disappointed.
At present, Elephant ride is rarely offered to tourists. It is now not possible to offer elephant ride guarrante to any tourists as procedure is very complex which lacks in transparency. In other words, we can say that now influential or rich person can enjoy the elephant ride and normal tourists will not get the ride. Allotment of elephants for safari rides is now become subject of discretionary power of Field Director of tiger reserve. When it comes to discretionary power, scope for mal-practice or corrupt practice increases. Now a days, while reading the rules and regulations, we will find the term "Joy Ride" in which elephant ride is suppose to be provided to visitor fur 45 minutes but in reality, it in not offered to any tourist. I spoke to various resort managers, regarding assured elephant ride but everybody denied to give any assurance. Procedure is such that we have to apply for elephant ride, wtih written application, describing name, purpose and ID details of proposed visitors. This application is to be first submitted to official who forwards these applications to Field Director. When this application will be forwarded to Field Director, no body knows and it is not disclosed to applicant. When this application will come to the table of Field Director, officer will go through application and uses his/her discretionary power to approve or deny the application. They will check the availability of elephants, their health status, purpose of ride etc. and takes decision. Usually decisions were disclosed 24hrs before your decided date thus till 24hrs before your planned ride date, you will not be able to know whether you are going to get it or not. Tourists will remain is suspense till 24 hrs before is safari date. Thus normally, nobody will like to remain in such a stalemate condition. Those visitors who have booked full-day jungle safari, have more probability to get elephant ride. Those visitors who have political influence and shared good relationship with Field Director may also have high probability to get such ride.
Considering all these factors, we usually deny our guests for elephant ride. It is not appropriate to give anybody a fake assurance when we ourself is not confident of getting elephant ride. Prodedure is long and non-transparent thus nobody uses the word "guarantee" while offering elephant ride to any guest.
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