Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, launched ‘Gaj Yatra’ here 13 August 2017, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants on the occasion of World Elephant Day. The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states.
Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Dr. Vardhan urged the people to prepare a strategy for a more even distribution of the elephant population in all the states of the country. The Minister emphasised that an attempt must be made to bring to an end the chapter of man-animal conflict. He added that a war must be waged against poachers and hunters who harm elephants and other wildlife. Calling for proactive, innovative and out-of-the-box ideas, Dr. Vardhan said that efforts for elephant conservation must bring about a qualitative improvement by the next World Elephant Day.
Dr. Vardhan pointed to the need to broad-base the movement for conservation of elephants and to involve people from all walks of life in the conservation of elephants and other wildlife. He emphasised the immense energy and potential of children in making such movements successful, as was the case with the anti-Polio campaign. The Minister said that an effort would be made to install the models of elephants being carved out from waste material at prominent public places like Parliament, Rashtrapati Bhawan and at the Ministry’s premises in Indira Paryavaran Bhawan.
World Elephant Day is an annual global event celebrated across the world on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of elephants. The goal of World Elephant Day is to create awareness about the plight of elephants and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants. African elephants are listed as “vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “endangered” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. As per the available population estimates, there are about 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants.
World Elephant Day is celebrated to focus the attention of various stakeholders in supporting various conservation policies to help protect elephants, including improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade in ivory, conserving elephant habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing captive elephants into sanctuaries. The elephant is part of India’s animal heritage and the Government celebrates this day to spread awareness about the conservation of the species.