Union Minister for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Bhupender Yadav on Thursday said that nature conservation should be taken up with a scientific approach involving the local community.
“Only technical advances cannot save the environment. Without public participation, without traditional wisdom, we cannot carry out conservation,” he said while addressing an event organised by his ministry to mark World Elephant Day.
“Just as we are the trustee of the jungles, so are the locals in their respective areas. We have to work in tandem for conservation activity, something that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has envisioned,” Yadav asserted.
On the occasion, the minister released a document for concurrent population estimation protocol for elephants and tigers for the next census to take place in 2022. Most elephant areas are coterminous with tiger ranges.
As per the results of the last elephant census in 2017, the number of wild elephants in India was barely 27,312.
Karnataka with 6,049 elephants led the states, followed by Assam (5,719), Kerala (3,054), and Tamil Nadu (2,761). Of the approximately 50,000 elephants in the world, India has almost 60 percent of them.
There are approximately 3,000 to 4,000 elephants in captivity, which forms 20 percent of those in captivity globally.
Minister of State at the MoEF&CC, Ashwini Kumar Choubey spoke about the many references found in India’s traditional literature, including Puranas, about elephants.
Director General (Forests) and Special Secretary Subhash Chandra reminded the gathering that India’s conservation story can be divided into two parts — ‘before’ and ‘after’ the Godavarman judgment of 1996 which imposed a ban on timber felling. He said that the conservation of big animals such as elephants and tigers is possible only with the conservation of the vegetative ecosystem.
Ministry secretary R. P. Gupta, Dhananjay Mohan of Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, and S. P. Yadav from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) also expressed their views at the event.