The Chitwan National park : ELEPHANT SAFARIS
This elephant safari was for me the peak of the trip in India and Nepal. First, because we were lucky. According to our "Pahit" (the guy sitting just behind the elephant ears), it was its best safari in 20 years. Indeed, in 90 minutes, we did observe 6 Rhinos and, most of all, a TIGER.
Traveling in the Jungle on an elephant is quite exciting !! I was quite pessimistic, expecting something very "touristics", the Pahit knowing the usual spots where they could bring their daily load of tourists, to see some "false wild" animals !
But it was not he case ! On the elephant, you go through a real jungle, not on predefined trails, and you can spot real animals fully wild !!
And you fully enjoyed the excitement of the hunt. Hopefully, today, it is mostly a photographic hunt, but it was not always the case.
Indeed, before 1950, the Chitwan area was the hunting reserves for the ruling class of Nepal. The hereditary prime ministers of Rana family, who ruled Nepal for 104 years, often used to invite their guest from England and India, killing huge numbers of tigers and rhinos. Hundreds of beaters were used moving through the forest, herding animals in front of the comfortably installed VIP, who would fire at will.
For example, in 1911, King George V and his party killed 39 tigers and 11 rhinos. In 1939, the last big Chitwan hunt included the British Viceroy : 120 tigers, 38 rhinos, 27 leopards, and 15 sloth bears were killed.
For information, only 100 tigers are still alive today in chitwan.
It has to be mentionned, that these royal hunting parties, were occuring on a regular basis but are not the main reason at all of the decline of the wildlife : Ultimately, the reduction of habitat is the greatest threat to the survival of wildlife.
Indeed, even if 100 is few, a further increase of the tiger population is no more comptable with the size of the national park : the territory (lebensraum) of an adult tiger should be at least 20 to 30 km2..