Sauraha’s elephants to be managed on cooperative model

Chitwan : With the touristic activities of elephants coming to halt following lockdown and restriction enforced to contain the coronavirus transmission, the tourism entrepreneurs here are set to manage the tuskers from one point. The elephants’ management is to be carried out adopting the concept of cooperatives. The entrepreneurs have been operating elephant-enabled tourism activities in the popular tourist destination of Sauraha in Chitwan.

There are around 70 elephants in Sauraha area while the count is 100 at Chitwan National Park covering Chitwan and Nawalparasi forests, hotel entrepreneurs said.  It has been hard to keep the elephants with sharp fall in the number of tourists’ arrival in Sauraha of late for elephant riding. Some 10 tuskers, brought from India on rent, have also been returned with no business in sight.

According to chairperson of United Elephant Cooperative Organization, Rishi Tiwari, the cooperative has been supporting the entrepreneurs in booking the elephants for tourism related business but it is almost non-existent.  He further shared that time has come to bring all elephants to the cooperative and allocate shares to the interested members. “We are exploring five bigha land for the purpose”, he said, adding all the elephants would be managed from a point with land availability. The tourism entrepreneurs would be the members of the cooperative.

Chairperson of Regional Hotel Association Deepak Bhattarai said the method was to be adopted to reduce costs involved in rearing the elephants. It involves a cost over Rs 100,000 per month to manage an elephant. The entrepreneur are paying monthly upto Rs 60,000 in rent. The elephants reared in Sauraha are being used to take the tourists to jungle safari in local buffer community forests.