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June 21, 2012

An Alternative Tourism Model – The Dubare Elephant Camp

The forest department of Karnataka maintains elephant camps across the state for a variety of purpose. Elephants were traditionally an instrumental part of the logging business and camps were set in various parts of the state to enable smooth operations of these activities. Usually, located deep inside forests, these camps provided livelihood to indigenous communities, besides engaging in timber logging. However, with the stoppage of these logging activities across the state, there were few options for these elephants. It became increasingly difficult to offer work to the pachyderms.

The forest department and Jungle Lodges and Resorts decided to cooperate in a unique project towards tourism based management of the Dubare Elephant Camp. The genesis of the resort was in the suggestion that the existing elephant training camp be put to some better use as their utility for timber cutting and logging was not practical in the current regime and most of them had no work. It was suggested to transform their activities and present it as a tourism activity. This would help generate income from tourism and also keep the elephants busy. The camp was located close to the tourist hub of Madikeri within the district of Coorg and this favourable location made it ideal for such an initiative as there was a captive tourist who already visited Coorg as part of his holidays and would love to include Dubare in his or her itinerary.

Thus, Dubare became a prime location for this experiment and soon, activities were designed around the elephant interaction programme. There were many elephants who have been either kept in captivity or domesticated over the years. There are some who have begun their natural lives at the camp and many who were captured at a relatively young age, all being trained by the mahouts. It provided a rare opportunity for the common man to feel and touch the elephants at a close quarter. This camp thus served the purpose of promoting elephant based tourism, educating tourists on elephant management and also promote the message of the need for a peaceful coexistence between man and animal.

Cheers for a great idea!!!