December 25, 2023: In a surprising turn of events, the iconic Kaziranga National Park in Assam has made the difficult decision to indefinitely suspend its popular elephant safari, effective from December 24. This unexpected move comes as a direct response to a recent directive from the Assam Forest Department, mandating the reservation of one seat on each elephant exclusively for forest department officials.
Reports indicate that the national park authorities strongly disagree with this directive, citing impracticality, and are now seeking resolution through the temporary closure of the beloved safari experience. The Assam Forest Department’s directive, aimed at ensuring a designated seat for forest officials during elephant safaris, has generated discontent among Kaziranga National Park authorities.
Arguing that the implementation of such a reservation is logistically unfeasible, the park authorities have opted to halt the elephant safari until a mutually agreeable resolution is achieved. The directive emphasizes the importance of a separate seat on the back of elephants for security reasons, a point contested by the national park authorities.
They have highlighted the impracticality of this requirement, stating that it will disrupt the normal operations of the safari and compromise the overall experience for both tourists and the animals involved. Adding to the complexity, the national park authorities reported an unsettling encounter with the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) during discussions about the reserved seat issue.
Allegations of mistreatment during the meeting have strained relations between the park authorities and the forest department, escalating tensions surrounding the closure of the popular elephant safari. The sudden discontinuation of the elephant safari has been acknowledged as ‘unfortunate’ for tourists who had planned to visit Kaziranga National Park.
With this widely sought-after attraction temporarily unavailable, visitors will miss the unique opportunity to explore the park atop elephants—an experience synonymous with the rich biodiversity and cultural significance of Kaziranga. The closure of the elephant safari serves as a symbolic protest against the impractical reservation directive.
National park authorities are urging a constructive dialogue to reach a mutually agreeable solution that addresses concerns raised by both parties. Until a resolution is reached, the fate of one of India’s most celebrated wildlife experiences remains uncertain, leaving visitors and wildlife enthusiasts patiently awaiting a positive outcome.