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 World Elephant Day 2023


Recently, on the occasion of World Elephant Day, the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Labour and Employment highlighted various initiatives and accomplishments in India’s elephant conservation journey.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. World Elephant Day
  2. Key Highlights of Elephants

World Elephant Day

  • World Elephant Day, commemorated worldwide on August 12, serves as a dedicated occasion to raise awareness regarding the critical challenges elephants face and advocate for their protection and conservation.
  • This day sheds light on various issues impacting elephants, including habitat loss, ivory poaching, human-elephant conflicts, and the pressing need for intensified conservation efforts.
Campaign Inception:
  • The World Elephant Day campaign was launched in 2012 with the purpose of drawing attention to the dire situations faced by African and Asian elephants.
  • Its primary goal is to foster a sustainable environment where animals are not exploited but are cared for.
Founders and Initiators:
  • The initiative was initiated by Canadian filmmakers Michael Clark and Patricia Sims, in collaboration with the Thailand-based Elephant Reintroduction Foundation.
  • Patricia Sims went on to establish the World Elephant Society in 2012, which has played a significant role in generating awareness about the threats elephants encounter and the urgent global need to safeguard them.
  • The campaign aims to create a platform for highlighting the plight of elephants and advocating for their well-being.
  • It strives to encourage global efforts for elephant conservation, ensuring their survival in the face of challenges.
  • World Elephant Day stands as a testament to the collective efforts of individuals, organizations, and communities worldwide, united in their commitment to safeguarding these majestic creatures from threats and ensuring a brighter future for them.

Key Highlights of Elephants: Biodiversity and Conservation

  • The elephant holds the distinction of being India’s Natural Heritage Animal.
  • Elephants are recognized as “Keystone Species” due to their pivotal role in maintaining forest ecosystem balance and health.

Intelligence and Brain Size:

  • Elephants are known for their remarkable intelligence, possessing the largest brain size among all land animals.

Ecological Impact:

  • Elephants are significant grazers and browsers, consuming substantial amounts of vegetation daily and dispersing seeds as they move.
  • They influence the vegetation structure of landscapes, particularly in Asian environments.
  • In forests, elephants create open areas by clearing trees, allowing sunlight to reach new seedlings and aiding natural forest regeneration.
  • Elephants also dig for water, contributing to water access for various species.

Elephants in India:

  • India hosts the largest number of wild Asian Elephants, estimated at around 29,964 according to the 2017 Project Elephant census.
  • This accounts for roughly 60% of the global Asian Elephant population.
  • Karnataka leads with the highest elephant population, followed by Assam and Kerala.
Conservation Status:

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species

  • African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis): Critically Endangered
  • African Savanna Elephant (Loxodonta africana): Endangered
  • Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus): Endangered
International Conservation Frameworks:

Convention on the Migratory Species (CMS):

  • African Forest Elephant: Appendix II
  • Asian Elephant: Appendix I

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):

  • African Savanna Elephant: Appendix II
  • Asian Elephant: Appendix I

February 2024