A four-day long elephant festival called "Gaj Mahotsav" is currently underway in the Indian capital New Delhi where artists, celebrities and government officials have come together to campaign for the conservation of elephant corridors and their natural habitats to avert the extinction of the mighty creatures.
Asian elephants, which are India's National Heritage Elephants are at immense risk of losing their natural habitats due to growing man-animal conflict, mainly because of rapid urbanization.
"There is an urgent need to optimize conservation efforts of wildlife as the situation could lead to an existential crisis for humans," Indian Minister for Commerce Suresh Prabhu said while inaugurating the festival on World Elephant Day.
Union Minister Suresh Prabhu & actor Dia Mirza inaugurated a four-day festival, 'Gaj Mahotsav' on World Elephant day in Delhi, yesterday. pic.twitter.com/iq6UbUAEDz— ANI (@ANI) August 12, 2018
As per the data released by the Indian Environment Ministry for 2017, there are only about 30,000 Asian elephants left in the world and most of them are confined to South Asia and Southeast Asia. Incidentally, around 60 percent of the global population of Asian elephants is in India.
The four-day long Gaj Mahotsav organized by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and other government and non-governmental bodies focuses on the "right to passage" for elephants in India where industrialization is fast infringing upon elephant habitats.
Although they are big & powerful, the survival of elephants depends on us. On #WorldElephantDay, join us at #GajMahotsav as we create new understanding on how we can coexist peacefully with elephants through art, workshops, discussions & more. https://t.co/QIqOI59a0L #WTI #Gaj101 pic.twitter.com/FNlt0XcvEa— Wildlife Trust India (@wti_org_india) August 12, 2018
#GajMahotsav #WorldElephantDay One of the key aspects of #wildlife conservation is awareness creation which gets inculcated if you participate in this kind of festivals; more than 100 themed elephant art pieces; must to be visited in this 04 day festival in #Delhi. pic.twitter.com/tCBLPf271K— Priyo (@Priyo1709) August 12, 2018
"We are all born free, and we must feel free to make the choices and follow the path that we need to in life, [and] so should all living beings," actor Diya Mirza, brand ambassador of WTI told the media.
On the sidelines of the exhibition, a symposium was held where deliberations focused on improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade in ivory. Different panel discussions delved into issues of conserving elephants' habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing some captive elephants into sanctuaries.
Curated by @DrAlkaPande, #Gaj101 is a special collection of sculptures — each more thought-provoking than the last — by artists from across the country. Visit #GajMahotsav & witness the beauty of these sculptures till 15 Aug. https://t.co/RpQ4elD9oI #JoinOurHerd #WorldElephantDay pic.twitter.com/RD8CiSnYwH— Wildlife Trust India (@wti_org_india) August 12, 2018
Meanwhile, the late Mani Kandan who was a senior Indian Forest Service officer at Karnataka's Nagarhole Tiger Reserve has been posthumously honored with the "Best Elephant Warrior Award." Kandan was trampled to death by a tusker when he went inside the jungle to assess the damage caused by a forest fire earlier this year.