Jaipur, Feb 20 (IANS) A South Korean couple was critically injured when the elephant they were riding on clashed with another elephant at the Amber Fort here Sunday morning.
The terrified couple jumped off the elephant, one sustaining a head injury and the other fracturing his leg when caught under the elephant’s feet, police said.
“Two tourists, Doil Kwon (56) and Kim Jung Sook (53) had gone to Amber Fort for an elephant ride at around 9 a.m. Soon after they hired one and started the ride, another elephant standing nearby went berserk,” Deputy Commissinor of police for north Ashok Naruka told IANS.
Seeing the elephants in fight, the couple jumped to the ground.
“Kim Jung Sook suffered head injuries when her head hit the ground. Doil Kwon came under the feet of one of the elephants and got his leg fractured,” said the officer.
The two were rushed to Fortis Hospital here.
“Doil has been shifted to the general ward but Kim is under observation in the intensive care unit,” the hospital’s medical superintendent Srikant Swami said.
Amber Fort is among the best hilltop forts in India. Being a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture, the 16th century fort attracts hundreds of tourists.
An elephant ride to the fort is very popular among tourists.
There have a number of similar incidents in Amber when elephants went berserk and even killed people.
Around 12 years back a mahout was trampled upon when he stopped the elephant from entering the lake spread near the fort.
A youth was trampled to death in 2003 when he tried to handle the elephant from atop. The raged animal pulled the youth down with its trunk crushed him to death.
Again, in September 2005, a tourist escort Vinod Bambha was killed while two Belgium tourists sustained serious injuries when an out-of-control elephant attacked them.
The animal protection groups have been demanding a ban on elephant rides in Amber Fort for the last few years.
Animal activists’ claim that trainers use extremely cruel methods that inflict pain and instil fear in the elephants. Many trainers beat the animal with bull hooks and keep them chained for long periods of time.
“These elephants are forced to work overtime to ferry tourists. Some times some get irritated. They have to be treated properly. They are wild animals”, Naresh Kadyan, a member of the International Organisation for Animal Protection in India, told IANS.
He said that the government should ban elephant rides. “These animals should be freed from captivity”, Kadyan demanded.