Union Forest Minister Harsh Vardhan launched a 15-month-long campaign “Gaj Yatra” to raise awareness about the shrinking space for India’s wild elephants. The campaign will go till next 15 months, this journey will do road show across 12 elephant states. WTI Brand Ambassador Dia Mirza flagged off the campaign marking the World Elephant Day. The campaign have also launched the second edition of its publication “Right to Passage”, which will have 101 elephant corridors in 2017. In last campaign back in 2005 had declared a total of 88 elephant corridors across 22 elephant states. This Gaj Yatra is partnered by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) which is the biggest event planned around India’s wild elephants. Harsh Vardhan, WTI Executive Director and CEO Vivek Menon also hosted in for the campaign.
“We share our country with the largest number of Asian elephants. However, in recent years our wild lands have been steadily destroyed and degraded, posing a serious threat to elephants,” said Mirza. We are hopeful that through this campaign, man-elephant conflicts will reduce,” the Union Forest Minister.
According to reports Asian elephants now occupy a meagre 3.5 per cent of their historical range. The vanishing corridors or passages within the forests through which the animal migrates without human disturbance is the biggest stumbling block in the way of conservation. In this second edition, there are 101, which shows that elephant habitats have become more fragmented,” said Vivek Menon, adding that the Gaj Yatra campaign aimed to take “Gajah” (elephant) to the “Prajah” (people). He added the Asian elephant was a keystone species on whose broad back so much of India’s rich biodiversity rested.