Kathmandu: The 14th edition of the annual elephant festival kicked off in Nepal's third popular tourism destination Chitwan on Tuesday with the participation of over 50 elephants.
The five-day event, organised by the Regional Hotel Association of Sauraha in Chitwan National Park, was inaugurated by Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.
The annual fiesta aims to bring humans closer to elephants, encourage wildlife protection and conservation and promote tourism in the region.
"We have been organising this festival to enhance human-wildlife relations by engaging them in sports and fun and to promote tourism of Chitwan," festival coordinator Suman Ghimire told Xinhua news agency over phone.
The festival will showcase elephant walk, elephant football, elephant bath, elephant beauty contest and elephant picnic, among others.
Chitwan National Park is enriched with abundance of wildlife and flora and fauna where elephant safari is one of the major attractions.
Besides the elephant adventures, the festival will also feature cultural procession, ethnic dances and musical programmes with stalls of variety of local foods. The fiesta will conclude on December 30.
Though Chitwan is a pioneer hub for elephant adventure, tourism entrepreneurs often claim that it still lacks tourists as compared to other tourism destinations in the country like Kathmandu and Pokhara.
"Around 800,000 foreign tourists visit Nepal annually, but unfortunately Chitwan receives only 25 per cent of them. We believe such festivals will attract more foreign tourists to wildlife adventure," said Keshav Pandey, director at Green Park Chitwan resort.