Meghalaya’s Home Minister James P K Sangma on May 29, 2018 flagged off the Gaj Yatra in Garo Hills of Meghalaya with an aim to raise awareness about the shrinking space for wild elephants in the country and particularly in the state. The Gaj Yatra was launched in the presence of Bollywood actor Dia Mirza, the Brand Ambassador of Wildlife Trust of India and other distinguished dignitaries at SMELC Building Dakopgre, Tura.
‘Gaj Yatra’ campaign was launched on August 12, 2017 by Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to mark World Elephant Day 2017. Led by partners Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Gaj Yatra is the biggest event ever planned around India’s National Heritage Animal – the Asian elephant. It is a nationwide campaign that was launched by the Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with the Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The ‘Gaju’ mascot, which was released by the Ministry in 2012, leads the campaign.
Key Highlights of the Gaj Yatra:-
• The Gaj Yatra was organised by the Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with the State Forest Department with an aim to protect the elephant and its habitat.
• The campaign will pass through five identified elephant corridors.
• Gaj Yatra will help in securing a safer future for the region’s elephants and tribal communities, alike.
• Meghalaya has 1754 elephants with an overall density of 0.16 elephants per square kilometre. Much of the elephant habitat area in the state is under community forest.
• The four-day Gaj Yatra will move the elephant mascot to Williamnagar via Siju and Rongara and will culminate at Baghmara in South Garo Hills district on June 1, 2018.