Gaj Utsav 2023: 30 years of Project Elephant

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    • President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the ‘Gaj Utsav 2023′ at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam to mark 30 years of Project Elephant.
      • Project Elephant is a Centrally-sponsored Scheme launched in 1992 by the Ministry of Environment to support states to ensure the long-term survival of elephants in their natural habitats.

    Asian elephants

    • Scientific Name: Elephas maximus indicus.
    • Size: The Asian elephant is the largest land mammal on the Asian continent. 
    • Habitat and distribution: They inhabit dry to wet forest and grassland habitats in 13 range countries spanning South and Southeast Asia.

    Population

    • There are about 50,000 – 60000  Asian elephants in the world. 
    • India has the largest number of wild Asian Elephants, estimated at 29,964 according to the 2017 census by Project Elephant, i.e. about 60% of the species’ global population.
    • India has 33 Elephant Reserves (ER). Lemru ER (Chhattisgarh), Agsthyamalai ER (Tamil Nadu) and Terai ER (Uttar Pradesh) were notified in 2022.

    Conservation Status

    • Asian elephants are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species
    • Asian elephants have also been listed in the Appendix I of the Convention of the Migratory species (CMS). It was decided at the Conference of Parties of CMS 13 held at Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat in 2020.

    Threats posed to Elephant Population

    • The demand for ivory leads to the illegal poaching of both African and Asian elephants.
    • The loss of habitat due to deforestation increases in mining and agricultural activities has become problematic, especially for Asian elephants.
    • It is a significant concern, as human populations increase and forest cover decreases, forcing elephants into close proximity with human settlements.
    • A lack of legislation regarding the care and treatment of elephants in zoos, circuses, and tourism often leads to their mistreatment.

    Other Government Initiatives

    • The National Portal on human-elephant conflict called “Surakshya” for the collection of real-time information & also for managing the conflicts on a real-time basis.
    • The government is using LiDAR technology in order to provide fodder and water augmentation in forest areas so that animals will get food and water in forest areas and will not come outside.
    • Under the Project RE-HAB, bee boxes will be used as a fence to prevent the attack of elephants.
      • The bee boxes are set up in the passageways of human-elephant conflict zones to block the entrance of elephants to human habitations.

    Source: PIB