Gaj Utsav 2023 begins at Kaziranga National Park to mark 30 years of project Elephant

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Protecting elephants is an important part of our national responsibility to preserve our national heritage: President Droupadi Murmu

New Delhi: A two day Gaj (Elephant ) Utsav 2023 has begun at the Assam’s Kaziranga National Park on Friday to mark the 30 years of project Elephant.

The Project Elephant, was launched in 1992 to provide financial and technical support to wildlife management efforts by states for their free-ranging populations of wild Asian Elephants.

Despite being a national heritage animal protected under Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972, elephants remain under threat from environmental and human stresses.

India has continued to promote elephant conservation efforts with Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announcing the opening of 32nd elephant reserve which will be in Tamil Nadu.

Inagurating the Gaj (Elephant ) Utsav 2023, President Droupadi Murmu said that “It is the National Heritage Animal of India. Therefore, protecting elephants is an important part of our national responsibility to preserve our national heritage”.

“To ensure more success to Project Elephant, all stakeholders must work together in a coordinated manner. It is also important to spread awareness and sensitivity about elephants among school children,” the President said in her address.

The President said that the ‘Human-Elephant Conflict’ has been an issue for centuries. And when we analyze this conflict, it is found that a barrier created in the natural habitat or movement of elephants is the root cause.

“Therefore, the responsibility of this conflict lies with the human society” she added.

The President noted that protecting elephants, conserving their natural habitats and keeping elephant corridors free from obstruction are the main objectives of Project Elephant.

President Murmu said that Kaziranga and Manas National Parks of Assam are invaluable heritage not only of India but of the whole world. That is why these have been given the status of ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO.

“Assam has the second largest population of wild elephants in the country. Therefore Kaziranga is a very apt place for organizing the Gaj-Utsav” she said.

The President emphasized that for the success of Project Elephant and Gaj-Utsav, all the stakeholders would have to move forward together.

India has the largest and the most stable population of Asian elephants and more than 60% of wild Asian elephants are in India.

The population of 29,964 elephants as recorded in the last elephant census conducted in 2017.

India has 31 Elephant Reserves and in the last 3 years, Dandeli Elephant Reserve has been notified by the state of Karnataka, Singphan Elephant Reserve by Nagaland and Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh.

This has brought the total area under Elephant Reserves in India to about 76,508 sqkm across 14 states with the total of 1197 sqkm of Protected Area dedicated for protection and conservation of elephants in India.

 

 

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