23:54 GMT +324 September 2018
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    Indian Gov't, NGO Join Hands for Jumbo Struggle to Conserve Elephant Corridors

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    The grand elephant festival in New Delhi features life-sized installations of 111 elephant corridors across India. Film screenings, rock-band performances and fairy-tale productions involving human-animal conflict by renowned dancers are also part of the festival organized by the Wild Life Trust of India.

    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.

    READ MORE: Indian Police Deploy 'Lord With Elephant Head' to Spread Message of Safety

    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.

    ​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. 

    The event aims to sensitize people through different art forms including an exhibition of elephant-themed paintings and installations. The highlights of the event are the 101 life-size art pieces representing the 101 elephant corridors of India. These have been painted by artists from across India.

    ​"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.

    READ MORE: Wild Elephant Intrudes, Attacks People at Tea Plantation in India

    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.

    ​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.

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    Tags:
    extinct, conservation, natural resources, elephant, conflict, climate change, World Wildlife Fund, Suresh Prabhu, India, New Delhi
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