Elephant rides made available for tourists at Similipal

Baripada: Elephant rides will be an added attraction for tourists visiting Similipal National Park as the state's only tiger reserve, located in Mayurbhanj district, opened for public on Wednesday.
Kunki elephants — Mahindra, Sobha and Raj Kumar — will take tourists on joyrides, said an official of the park, which opened today after a 12-day delay caused due to efforts to clear trees uprooted by Cyclone Phailin.
Tourists have been permitted to visit the park only in the day time as over night stay in the sanctuary has been banned since March 29, 2009 following Maoist menace, Anup Kumar Nayak, field director of the park, said.
There was not much footfall on the opening day with only two vehicles with tourists entering through the Kaliani and Pithabata entry points.
Visitors to the park have been increasing over the years. While 9,663 visitors, including 49 foreign tourists, visited in 2010-11, their number increased to 13,709 in 2011-12 and 26,614 in 2012-13.