Bhubaneswar: World Elephant Day was observed at Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) here, Wednesday, with a message of elephant conservation. During the event, it was revealed that factors like rising human population and dwindling forest cover are responsible for elephants straying into human settlements.
According to a release issued by the deputy director of NZP, the day was celebrated in the presence of NZP Director Shashi Paul, Centurian University’s Zoology HOD Siba Prasad Parida, and the zoo’s deputy director Bimal Prasanna Acharya.
The celebration with a message for elephant conservation was held without crowd due Covid-19 pandemic. The elephants were given a special treat of coconut, banana, sugarcane, maize, watermelon and apple. The mahouts were also felicitated on the occasion for their hard work.
World Elephant Day is observed August 12 every year to conserve and protect elephants from numerous threats they face. The first World Elephant Day was celebrated in 2012 to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants, to share knowledge and solutions for better care and management of captive as well as wild elephants, said the statement issued by the NZP deputy director. African elephants are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ whereas Asian elephants are listed as ‘Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
Human-elephant conflict has become a bigger concern due to increasing human population and dwindling forest cover, forcing elephants to stray into human settlements or nearby areas. Incidents like crop damage, resulting in economic loss, and casualties of elephants and humans are the consequences. Poaching of elephants for tusks is a serious concern in some parts of Asia. Poaching of tuskers impacts sex ratio that become highly female biased; genetic variation is reduced, and fecundity and recruitment may decline.
Project Elephant was launched in 1992 by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to provide financial and technical support of wildlife management efforts by states for their free ranging population of wild Asian elephants.
“The project aims to ensure long-term survival of viable conservation-reliant population of elephants in their natural habitats… So, we celebrate World Elephant Day which is an international annual event August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world elephants,” Acharya said.