Jairam Ramesh launches ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ campaign

May 24th, 2011 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday launched the ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ campaign here as part of an initiative to boost the protection and welfare of India’s endangered elephants.

“Elephants are so ingrained in Indian culture and traditions that sometimes we tend to take the elephant for granted.

“This initiative is aimed at increasing awareness among people and developing not just friendship but also companionship between people and elephants,” he said.

The campaign was launched during a one-day conference of officials from the elephant range countires of India, Botswana, the Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand. The officials deliberated on the issues facing elephant conservation.

The mascot, logo and website (www.haathimeresaathi.org) of the campaign were also unveiled.

The campaign, one of the recommendations of the Elephant Task Force (ETF) constituted by the ministry last year, will be conducted jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

“Unlike the tiger, which faces threat of extinction, the elephant faces threats of attrition. The elephant numbers have not increased or decreased drastically, but there is increasing pressure on the elephant habitats and it is a serious concern that we will try and address by involving people in elephant conservation and welfare through this campaign,” a WTI statement quoted Ramesh as saying.

“Elephants have for ages been a significant icon in Indian culture and traditions and a flagship for Indian forests. However, today there are threats to the pachyderms in the wild, and there are welfare concerns for captive elephants.

“The country’s national heritage animal needs its people and the idea behind the campaign is to mobilise this support,” said Vivek Menon, executive director of WTI and a member of the task force.

Asian elephants are threatened by habitat degradation, conflicts and poaching for ivory. These threats are more intense in India, which harbours more than 50 percent of Asian elephants.

“India has about 25,000 elephants in the wild. Despite this seemingly large number, the elephant, particularly the tuskers, in India is as threatened as the tiger. There are just about 1,200 tuskers left in the country,” said Jagdish Kishwan, additional director general (wildlife) MoEF.

“Moreover, elephants being large-bodied have much larger range and resource requirements; destruction of their habitat can have drastic effects on this species, and these cannot be addressed without the people’s participation,” he said.

The campaign will target locals near elephant habitats, youth and policy makers, among others.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Environment |