Amer, a small town near Jaipur, Rajasthan is famous for being the location for the hill-top Amer Fort, over 400 years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While there is a severe heat crisis and water shortage across the country, Rajasthan is facing one that is most acute, with temperatures consistently averaging at 45 degrees celsius.
Among those who are suffering are elephants, used to service tourists for joyrides, for whom the desert region is not a natural habitat in the first place. Specifically, there is not even enough water for them to drink.
Mohammed, an elephant owner, says, "We haven't had water here in over two years. We have complained to the authorities but no one listens. All our water, even the drinking water, comes from tankers. Meanwhile, the elephants are being fed up to 4-5 quintals of sugarcane to help keep them cool."
Last month the Rajasthan High Court had issued a notice to the State Government directing it to strictly adhere to the guidelines mentioned in the State Water Policy 2010. Jaipur faces a severe depletion in its groundwater resources and 12 out of 13 water blocks are overexploited.
The elephant owners have also asked for government support to help feed and maintain the elephants. In 2015, the Supreme Court served a notice on the Rajasthan Government on a plea filed by the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, asking for prohibiting the use of elephants in safaris, joyrides and exhibitions in Amer to prevent cruelty to the animals.