Celebrating World Elephant Day 2023- A call to protect and preserve

Elephants are recognized as the most majestic yet loving creatures on the Earth. From religious to ecological point of view they have their own importance. In hindu mythology, elephants symbolizes power, wisdom and strength. Lord Ganesha, the god of wisdom and knowledge, has an elephant head and human body which represents his intelligence, power and vast knowledge. Whereas from an ecological point of view, elephants are considered as one of the important keystone species, meaning their presence or absence can greatly impact the ecosystems. Due to their large size body, elephants have enormous impact on their environment. Elephants are considered as ecosystem engineers as they control resource availability for other species by modifying the physical environment around them. Additionally, they contribute to seed dispersal, helping to regenerate forest and maintain biodiversity.

Pic taken at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve during survey

Challenges and threat
Despite their importance, elephants are facing numerous challenges that threaten their survival. Habitat loss due to deforestation, human encroachment and urbanization has led to conflicts between humans and elephants. Poaching for ivory and demand for ivory remains a great concern. Climate change has also caused a great impact in their population and habitat. It has altered their natural habitat. In addition, the use of elephants for Safari has posed a major threat on their health status.
Conservation efforts:
Various researchers and passionate conservationists have involved in safeguarding elephants. National and international organizations also has been working together to conserve these delicate species.The conservation efforts involve anti-poaching, habitat restoration projects and educational campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of protecting these gentle giants.

Pic taken at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

However, human elephant conflict is clearly found in the various areas of Nepal especially near the buffer zones of the national parks and protected areas. Elephants travels miles and prefers a large space of habitat for survival in the natural state. But human encroachment has largely affected the habitat of these beings which in turns fights for its space. This sometimes results in destruction of human settlement and agricultural lands including the threat to human lives. The limited availability of space and food resources has pose a major threat to survival of elephants.
Therefore, it is highly necessary to create awareness among the people about the importance of elephants and work for their conservation in a robust manner. Every year on August 12, the world comes to celebrate and raise awareness for the conservation of these gentle giants. World Elephant Day is a reminder that we all are connected and it is equally important to protect and preserve these species for our own survival as well.

Writeup: Sudikshya Dhakal (Volunteer, ENPROSC)