Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
31-August-2010 19:59 IST
MOEF to Declare Elephant as National Heritage Animal
The Ministry of Environment and Forests will declare elephant as a National Heritage Animal. The Ministry will also set up National Elephant Conservation Authority to give same degree of visibility, importance and criticality as much as given to National Tiger Conservation Authority. After releasing the Report of the Elephant Task Force here today, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests (I/c) said we will bring a science based exercise in protecting and census of this animal. Shri Ramesh appreciated the way the Task Force has addressed the main concerns of the issue. They include elephant corridors in context of mining, power and irrigation projects, of protection of elephant corridors, elephant in captivity, institutional changes in order to put elephant conservation on high, sound footing and give same degree of visibility as Project Tiger gets.

The Minister also welcomes the suggestion to organize an International Elephant Conference in 2011. Referring to damage to crops and plantations in various states, he said the identification of high conflict areas between man and animal will help in early conflict management work. He added, “ Two agencies, Railways and Power Grid Corporation will play an important role in halting damage to elephants.”

A specialized task force was set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the Chairmanship of Dr Mahesh Rangarajan to address the problems related to the Asian elephant. Presenting the Report Dr Rangarajan said the elephant must be given its due pride of place. The National Heritage Animal status would be a befitting thinng to this because it unifies both culture and ecology. Survival of animal depends on partnership with people. An education and outreach programme called ‘Gaja to Praja’ is required to educate peopleto save elephants.”

The Task Force recommends a new system of assessment at three tiers. Crisis of elephant is not a crisis of extinction but a crisis of attrition. The crisis has to be looked into the conservation of habitat. Rationalise the boundaries after proper biological assessment, prioritize corridors out of 88 cirridors, immidiate implementation in 26 corridors which has vital feasibility, 50 years Perspective Plans instead of five year management planasas this is a long lived species, inclusion of people who are knowledge bearers outside the government are few suggestions that the Task Force has made.The task force stresses that the animal should be monitored on an age-sex classification. An age-sex classification is necessary as there is a low male-female sex ratio of elephants in the wild. It also adds that reserves and corridors should be protected from developmental projects, and special attention should be paid to the conflict between humans and elephants as almost 400 people are killed protecting the cops every year from human-elephant conflict in India.

About 400 human beings are killed per year by this animal and fifty-thousand people suffer due to them. India has some 3500 animals in captivity.