Honking horns, halting traffic and scorching heat-this is India. However India is also revered for its animal diversity. Monkeys running through markets and cows sitting in the middle of roads stalling traffic are nothing new to the near 1.28 billion people that call it home. Tourists who visit the country often times want the full experience which includes everything from spicy cuisine to sight seeing on the back of a majestic Indian elephant. Animals have now become such an integrated part of tourism in India and locals use these animals to entertain foreigners.
Monkeys that are meant to be roaming free are captured and trained to perform in shows. This is a common practice in many small villages such as this one in Fatehpur Sikri. Villagers train these monkeys and take them into tourist heavy areas where they perform and entertain on lookers. Fatehpur Sikri is a city in Agra which is the home of the Taj Mahal. Approximately three million people visit this world wonder every year.
Video by Emily.Singh
Animals are found at every corner across the country, some are free while many others are attached to a rope or being used as performers in a show. Snake charming is an old tradition in India, however much more goes on behind the scenes to give tourists such a charmed experience. Cobras and vipers are the two most common snake species that are used for these acts. The mouths of these snakes are stitched up and only a small opening is left so that the tongue can be extended to add drama to the performance. In actuality snakes cannot hear so they really are not entranced by the music of the flute but really by the sight of it. The reality is that although this may be entertaining to many who have never seen such a sight, the fate of these creates is dire. Often times they die prematurely due to harsh treatment and diseases. Snake charmers can be found all over the country and the charmers typically have the same style of dress.
Senthuran Saravanapavan was born in Sri Lanka, a neighbouring country to India. Although he left Sri Lanka at a very young age and has no recollection of his days there, snake charming is also a form of entertainment there.
“I’ve never seen a snake charmer in person before, but I do not approve of the practice. Snakes are meant to be out in the wild, not sitting in wicker baskets making people money on the side of street,” says Senthuran Saravanapavan.
The Indian elephant is one of the most endangered species there is. Yet very little is being done to preserve what little we have left in the world. In India elephants serve as a method of transportation and as an attraction as tourists ride them up hills and mountains.
Omid Golepayengi has been living in Kolkatta, India his entire life. Golepayengi is a family man and pet owner like many others in India, who makes his living as a network administrator for IBM.
“I have two dogs and couldn’t imagine leashing them all day without letting them feel free. So many times when I travel to other cities for work I see tourists enjoying elephant rides in this hot sun. These elephants have seats attached to them and they carry one sometimes two people for long distances. I have grown accustomed to this I see it all the time, but it’s cruel, bit it’s India,” says Golepayengi.
Camels are also over worked and turned into a spectacle in India. They are dressed up and painted and sometimes even have piercing through their skin to create a royal look. They can often be seen pulling large carts with people sitting in them or carrying tourists on their backs.
India has become one of the greatest tourism destinations in the world but animals have also suffered greatly in the process. Often times they are disregarded and used to entertain the tourists and slowly gain a place on the endangered species list.