New Delhi, Aug 12: The 2017 wildlife census indicated that India had just 27,000 elephants across 23 states. This was a surprisingly low number considering over 60 per cent of the Asian elephant population is supposed to be in India.
On the occasion of World Elephant Day, CEO of Grow-Trees.com, Bikrant Tiwary observes, “As per the data provided by the Union Ministry of Environment as many as 1160 elephants were killed between 2010 and 2020, and elephant numbers continue to dwindle despite the fact that they are revered in India.”
Bikrant believes rampant poaching, human-animal conflict, and shrinking natural habitats must be addressed urgently and this is why Grow-Trees.com has initiated plantation initiatives to preserve elephant habitats and expand the elephant corridor that extends from Odisha to West Bengal and crosses the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary in Jharkhand.
Do not geotag elephant photos on social media
Says Bikrant, “Whenever we are amid wildlife, the first instinct is to click pictures but whenever we post a photo on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and use a geotag option to reveal the GPS location of where the image was clicked, we literally invite poachers to track and hunt down endangered elephants, tigers and other species that may be on the verge of extinction.”
He suggests that as a precautionary measure, we should turn off the GPS on our phone and not mention the name of the wildlife sanctuary where an animal was spotted, and just refer to the region in question, in a general way.
Choose elephant friendly coffee
In “Elephants in the Coffee,” an award-winning documentary, Bikrant discusses the escalating conflict between elephant populations and coffee growers in Karnataka, where more than 70 per cent of India’s coffee is produced. According to Bikrant, while enjoying our favourite beverage, we might not be aware that we may have indirectly contributed to the eviction of elephants from their natural habitat.
He continues, “Cardamom, ginger, vanilla, and other spices found in coffee plantations also attract animals that feed on vegetation, and when elephants encroach on plantations, a human-elephant conflict can quickly spiral out of control. Make careful to buy coffee from a company that has received Fair Trade certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The management of the plantations was confirmed by an FSC accreditation.”
Refuse and reject ivory products
The UK recently placed a nearly complete prohibition on the import, export, and trade of goods made from elephant ivory. This was a crucial move because it is estimated that over 20,000 elephants are killed each year to meet the demand for ivory.
Observes Bikrant “Despite India’s 1976 ban on the import and export of ivory, illegal poaching of elephants is nevertheless common. The strong demand for Asian elephant tusks puts these animals in danger and leads to an imbalance in the number of male and female elephants in Asia. Ivory is still used to make artefacts, jewellery, dominoes, fans, piano keys, and other items. This is why it is crucial that we permanently stop using ivory goods.”
Choose ethical tours
A 2017 study by World Animal Protection has stated that as many as 3000 elephants were held captive in tourist places across Asia and were denied enough food and water.
Says Bikrant, “Often baby elephants are taken away from their mothers to provide joy rides to tourists. If you love wildlife safaris, make sure you choose one which doesn’t disturb or harm animals or biodiversity. Offering bananas and coconut leaves to elephants is also not a good idea as it familiarises them to humans. This may lead them into heavily populated areas where a conflict with humans may become inevitable. Please behave responsibly around wild animals and before finalising a tour operator, check their websites to see if they follow wildlife and environmental conservation policies and are ethical. “