People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India on Thursday filed a petition before the Rajasthan High Court seeking an end to the elephant joy rides at the iconic Amer Fort and Hathi Gaon (Elephant village) in Jaipur.
Elephant rides are a major attraction at Amer Fort. Jumbos painted with traditional patterns carry tourists up and down the steep slope at the fort. Most of these animals live in the nearby Hathi Gaon.
In the petition filed on Tuesday, PETA India pointed out that these rides are illegal as none of the elephants used are registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).
This, the petition said, is a violation of The Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, framed under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
It is also against the Rajasthan government's order which mandates that permission from the AWBI is required for using elephants in any film, serial, advertisement, function, sport, event, exhibition, mela or any other type of performance, including rides.
"Under no circumstances should the cruel and illegal elephant rides at Amer Fort be allowed to continue," said PETA India's senior legal associate Swati Sumbly.
She added that the petition seeks to end the shameful practice of forcing sick, elderly, and blind elephants to haul unjustifiably heavy loads through Jaipur.
The petition follows a report by the AWBI inspectors which said that elephants offering rides to tourists at the Amer Fort suffer from blindness and tuberculosis and are often forced to carry loads heavier than 200 kg.
Last month, the animal rights organisation had sent legal notices to Rajasthan's Department of Archaeology and Museums and Forest Department asking them to stop illegal elephant rides.