The one decade long wait of wildlife lovers of enjoying elephant safari at Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand has finally ended. After facing crunch of trained elephant for long, Rajaji has resumed elephant safari this season- which began from 15 November. Rajaji reserve- located in Pauri, Dehradun and Haridwar districts- is home to many endangered species, including Asiatic elephant and royal Bengal tiger.
A 75-year-old female elephant Arundhati, which was fondly called ‘grand old lady of Rajaji, was used to conduct safari till 2006. But, Arundhati became seriously ill in 2006 and died one year later to end a major tourist attraction for the park. The jumbo had created news worldwide that time when the Uttarakhand forest department granted mercy killing to Arundhati-which failed to get executed due to protest from animal lovers. In October 2007 the iconic jumbo of the park died a natural death.
This time a record three elephants are being used for taking the visitors in the jungle safari. Rajaji Tiger reserve’s ranger Raju Nautiyal says, “A male and two female elephants are being used for this. These calves got separated from their group or were abandoned and the forest department took care of them for many years. Now the jumbos are ready to take up the responsibility.”
Two years ago, the state wildlife board approved re-conducting elephant safari in Rajaji Tiger Reserve. After that the training of the ‘Mahouts’ and elephants took place. Elephant trainers from Assam came for conducting the three-month long training programme this year and now the elephant safari has become a reality in the tiger reserve.
Nature lovers love touring the forest on elephant back to explore the wilderness. In the absence of trained elephants, the visitors had no other option except to opt for Jeep safari. This time the elephant safari is back with a bang- by deploying three elephants.
Raja (28 year old), Rangeeli (27) and Radha (33) are presently involved in conducting the jungle ride. The safari takes the tourists on a nostalgic tour. Newly trained jumbos of the forest department are conducting the trip which Arundhati used to conduct from 1981 to 2006.