The story of the hapless elephants and their diminishing forests

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Nagaraj Chandrashekaraiah

The voiceless elephants are fighting for survival. We are pushing them over the precipice towards extinction. Nagaraj Chandrashekaraiah has given a wake up call. It should rattle the sensibilities of the law makers, the enforcing authorities and also the common public.

Photo courtesy: Behavior & chasing Of Elephant (part-1), a film by Jasoprakas Debdas

Reasons for Jumbo Deaths in India

According to the statistics, the cause of the death of the jumbos over the past 6 years has been electrocution, train accidents, poaching, habitat loss, and poisoning. Also, as per the Karnataka Forest Department, nearly 109 elephants died because of electrocution over nine years up to 2018, which means 12 elephants a year or an elephant every month.

In addition to the incidents of elephant deaths in their habitat, conservationists are of the the opinion that the way we are losing or killing these jumbos is heart-rending and a reflection of the sorry state of our national Heritage .

Wildlife experts have been asserting that it is wrong to block or allow the degradation and encroachment of forests and the elephant passages as these wide-ranging animals should be left to move freely. An environmentalist has even filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking removal of spikes and other artificial objects as fences to ease the movement of these jumbos.

The population of Asian elephant was estimated at around 30, 000 in 2012 and at 27,670 in 2007 census. Karnataka with 6049 elephants tops the list among 23 census states followed by Assam having 5,719, Kerala has 3054 and Tamil Nadu 2761 pachyderms.

What about their protection in their natural habitat?

This question needs to be answered both by the government and the people. It can’t be crusaded only by the animal lovers, as all of us enjoy their grand existence, load them with glitter and brocade and put them on display to enthuse us and to enthrall the onlookers during festivals such as Dussehra. While we promote tourism by flaunting the glamour and gaiety and use elephants to glorify our heritage, once an year, the big question is what will be the fate and what will remain of the elephants in the near future.

Elephants in the wild, elephants in their natural habitat symbolise a healthy forest ecosystem. They are a barometer of the state of our forests. if the elephants do not survive in their habitat, the forests would also vanish and even the thought of what would follow should send a chill down the spine of the present generation.

Before its too late, we the people should rise to the occasion and do everything to save the elephant in the wild. Urgent steps are needed in this direction not only for the survival of elephants but also humankind.

The elephants are fighting a losing battle as we are pushing them over the precipice towards extinction. It is high time we think about the safety of elephants at all cost….

Nagaraj Chandrashekaraiah
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