Home > India 2012 > Elephant Economics

Elephant Economics

According to our guide, it costs $15,000 to purchase an elephant, and daily feedings cost close to $20.  We paid $40 for our ride up to the Amber Fort outside Jaipur, but we don’t know how much of that went to the elephant’s owner/trainer.  This being the low season, each of the ~120 elephants working in the area carries tourists on 1-2 trips every few days.  In high season, that increases to 6 trips every few days.  A few of the elephants live nearby, but many walk from Jaipur, which takes 2 hours.  That’s a hot walk: sun beating down from above and pavement radiating heat from below.

I don’t really have all the information, but it seems as if one could break even in this business, but it would be hard to make much of a living.  The elephant owners look like very poor people.  I imagine it would be a tragic scene if tourism suddenly took a big dive.  Whatever would the elephant owners do?  It seems like an oddly fragile existence based on such a hardy creature.  I hope it’s work the owners really love.  I’m so glad they’re doing it!

Categories: India 2012
  1. Dennis
    July 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    $15,000 seems like a bargain to me. From an environmental standpoint, I wonder how the emissions compare to those of a Honda Accord. Dennis

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