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Best destinations to interact and work with elephants ethically

India and elephants are inseparable. Since ancient times, elephants have helped people in various tasks, whether it be warfare or domestic and religious purposes. Their capacity for heavy lifting and association with the Hindu god Ganesh has earned elephants a place of respect.

With over 3,000 domesticated elephants in India, the topic is controversial. Abuse of animals is not unheard of. However, there are some places involved in the humane rehabilitation of abandoned, old, and abused elephants.

Converted into ecotourism centres, these five camps bring together responsible tourists and charming pachyderms in natural surroundings.

Most elephants here are kept unchained (except in emergencies) and some of these locations even accept volunteers.

1. Wildlife SOS, Mathura UP

Home to over 20 elephants rescued from captivity, this is an ideal place to spend a good day.

Expect to learn the stories of these animals from the mahouts and closely observe and feed them. Riding one is not permitted, but you can surely walk with them.

The laudable effort of one man, the centre now accepts volunteers.

More details here.

2. Kipling Camp, Madhya Pradesh

Deep in the heart of Kanha National Park, this rustic camp is a set of lovely and comfortable cottages managed by the Wright family. Tara, the house elephant, is the camp’s heart and soul.

Rescued from the street where she used to beg, Tara was the lead star of the bestselling book Travels On My Elephant.

Kipling Camp is an excellent place for a holiday and to meet the popular matriarch.

More details here.

3. Dubare Elephant Camp, Karnataka

On the popular road to Coorg, this camp is often visited by daytrippers. The luxurious stay options, however, deserve longer stays.

Partly managed by the forest department, Dubare has the Cauvery River flowing through it, and about 20-25 elephants of all ages and sizes frolicking in it.

Visitors can feed, bathe, or simply observe the elephants going about their daily routine with their mahouts.

More details here.

4. Sakrebyle Elephant Camp, Karnataka

Located in Shettihalli Wildlife Sanctuary, expect gorgeous forests and nature all around you.

The elephants here are trained for various purposes by the forest department. Travellers can observe the animals being trained, fed, and bathed in the Tunga River. Chalets, cottages, and dormitory accommodation is also available.

More details here.

5. Smiling Tusker Elephant Camp, Assam

Assam’s Manas National Park is highly underrated. Apart from a wealth of wildlife, the biosphere reserve also holds this endearing elephant rehabilitation centre.

Observing these large mammals in close quarters is splendid, considering the beautiful Eastern Himalayan countryside.

Local student groups and photographers frequent this place. The decent accommodation available here means regular travellers are also welcome.

More details here.

Image Credit: Click here




Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.

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