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New Delhi : Emphasising on the need to address the root cause behind the man-animal conflict, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Suresh Prabhu on August 12, 2018, pointed out that the man-animal conflict is an existential crisis not for the animals, but for human beings.

Addressing a gathering to celebrate World Elephant Day at Indira Gandhi Centre for National Arts here, Prabhu said that there is an urgent need to explain this existential crisis to the human population.  The Minister stressed on the urgent need to focus on human population to optimise conservation efforts.  He also acknowledged the supreme sacrifice of late Dr Manikandan and his family on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Director General of Forest and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Siddhanta Das, said that in the quest for development, human intervention has fragmented habitats of elephants and destroyed forests, which in turn has led to the occurrence of man-animal conflict.  Dr Das stated that elephants keep walking and eating for 18 hours in a day and defecate half-digested food including grass, bamboo and leaves over a wide area giving rise to another chain of events.  He averred that if elephants are confined to one place, nature’s linkage is broken. He stressed on the urgent need to protect the habitat and corridors of elephants.

In a brief address, brand ambassador of Wildlife Trust of India, Dia Mirza said that the only way to involve more and more people in conservation efforts is to build a narrative of engagement. She expressed the hope that ‘Gaj Mahotsav’ will provide an opportunity to conservationists, policy-makers, people particularly children, to come together to conserve and protect wildlife and elephants, in particular, according to a PIB release.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, along with Wildlife Trust of India, kicked off the celebrations of ‘Gaj Mahotsav’ on August 12.  The four-day ‘Gaj Mahotsav’ celebrations will continue till August 15, 2018.  ‘Gaj Mahotsav’ celebrations will include sessions on policy, art exhibitions, film shows, music and entertainment. A special area has been earmarked on the IGNCA lawns for the display and sale of elephant-themed products and produce from various NGOs that have been invited to showcase their work.   The 101 elephants displayed at IGNCA during Gaj Mahotsav symbolise the 101 elephant corridors that need to be protected.

An award ceremony was also held to commemorate the World Elephant Day.  Prabhu conferred the “Best Elephant Warrior Award” to late Dr Manikandan.  The award was received by Sangeeta Manikandan.  The award for making a significant contribution to the cause of conservation of Asian elephant was given to John Burton & Ms Vivien Burton.  The efforts of Assam government in putting back 15 elephants into the wild were also acknowledged on the occasion.   Dr Alka Pande,  Ina Puri, Anita Nair, Bulbul Sharma, Surendra Verma, Shantum Seth, and Abhilash Khandekar were also felicitated for making wildlife conservation efforts.

Prabhu also released “Mere Desh Ki Zameen” – the “Wild Anthem” composed by noted lyricist Prasoon Joshi and sung by well-known singers Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Vishal Dadlani and Benny Dayal.

A presentation by the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust directed by Dadi Pudumjee using specially created colouful ‘Tolu Bomblatta shadow puppets’ from Andhra Pradesh was made before the gathering.  The presentation was created by S. Hanumantha Rao, S Chidambara Rao, Khande Bhaskar Rao, and Kanday Anjanappa.



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