August 12 marks the World Elephant Day highlighting the plight of Asian and African elephants. The Thai-based Elephant Reintroduction Foundation, in collaboration with Canadian filmmaker Patricia Sims, organized the event for the day. And since 2012, The Sims has been a leader in World Elephant Day.
The day also focuses on spreading awareness about their preservation and protection. Notably, various threats including, poaching, habitat loss, mistreatment in captivity hover over elephants, especially Asian and African.
World Elephant Day with Significance to Assam
Assam has the second-highest number of elephants in India. The gentle giant also holds a great historical significance for the state.
The state is home to nearly 5,000 Asiatic elephants. “There is a big illusion in Assam where people, in general, believe that the elephant population is increasing because of which these conflicts take place. But that is not true. If we observe the data for the last three to four years you will see that on an average 50 elephants died every year. The forest space has continuously shrunk thus giving the illusion that there are more elephants,” said Aranyak, a non-government environment organization.
The man-elephant conflict has grown much bigger in proportion in Assam and it is no longer a problem that can be handled alone by the state forest department. For instance, in many places, the power lines are not high enough leaving elephants exposed to the risk of electrocution. At times these low height power lines also end up helping unscrupulous elements to electrocute the animal. Had the power department insulated the elephant habitat, many pachyderms would not have died. These have to be done not only in forests but also in the surrounding areas. A holistic and multidisciplinary approach can only help achieve the desired results in elephant conservation.
According to recent data of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), there are roughly 440,000 elephants left on the planet. The WWF also revealed that every year around 15,000 elephants are hunted by poachers. It is not only our responsibility to take measures for their conservation but also create awareness about the possible ‘Elephant Extinction.’
Meanwhile, despite being cultural and religious icons in India, elephants are badly treated by unschooled mahouts. Many elephants fell prey to electrocution, train accidents, poaching and poisoning.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the number of wild Asiatic elephants has dipped below 50,000, which is just 15% of its historic average. Wild Asiatic elephants are primarily found in India and in some parts of Southeast Asia.
World Elephant Day 2021: Support the cause
To observe World Elephant Day, Blue Dart will plant 1,031,170 trees for elephants on the outskirts of Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary in East Singhbum, Jharkhand. While Grow-Trees.com is planting millions of trees in Singhbhum Elephant Reserve, Jharkhand to repair fragmented migration routes, create sheltered and screened areas for elephants and expand habitats.
World Elephant Day 2021: Theme
The theme for this year’s World Elephant Day has not been announced, however, last year it was ‘Haathi Hamara Saathi.’