Seven years after India's first and the world’s third elephant village ‘(Haathi Gaon') came into being in Amber, near the state capital, the Rajasthan Forest Department has taken over it to manage it under a much-awaited plan of running it as a zoo. This followed the Elephant Welfare Society, moving a proposal on 9 August to charge an entry fee from both Indian and foreign tourists.
The village has so far been under the Rajasthan Tourism Department. The premises of the Amber Palaces, some 15 kms from Jaipur city, has maximum number of India’s elephants in captivity. The pachyderms are used for joy rides to the Amber Fort and back.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (Zoo), Mr. Sudarshan informed that visitors would be charged an entry fee from henceforth. "An Indian tourist visiting the Hathi Gaon will have to pay Rs. 50, while foreign tourists will have shell out Rs. 300 as an entry fee. This amount will be utilized for the development of Hathi Gaon and improving the conditions of elephants and mahouts," he informed.
On the first day, till 1 pm, the Forest Department collected Rs. 8,500 as income from ticket charges. The amount will be transferred to the bank account of the Elephant Welfare Society, which will be later used for the welfare of the elephants..
Despite elephants adorning weddings and imparting a regal picture to the tourists at Amber Fort, their lives otherwise are spent in not a comfortable condition in 'Haathi Gaon' and other places surrounding Amber. Constant efforts by the animal welfare organizations like Elephant Family and others have not impacted much on the lives of the elephants here.