Elephants are the gardeners of the forest. Credit: christianhaugen/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.
More than 500 people and 100 elephants die every year due to conflict with each other, officials of the environment ministry said on Monday.
Releasing the figures at an event ahead of World Elephant Day on August 12, the officials said interactions between humans and elephants have led to the death of both. According to the last census, conducted in 2017, India is home to 30,000 elephants.
Addressing the event, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar said elephant conservation is vital as it balances the ecosystem.
Elephants have to be kept in forests for which fodder and water augmentation programme has been initiated, the minister said, adding that by next year results will start showing.
Speaking about the significance of elephants, Union minister of state for environment Babul Supriyo condemned the May 27 incident in Kerala wherein a pregnant elephant died after consuming a firecracker-filled pineapple.
“We must protect our elephants. The Kerala incident was inhuman and such criminal acts will be dealt with. The ministry and states have zero tolerance approach to such activities and I am sure exemplary punishment will be given to the culprit,” Supriyo said.
Giving out the figures of deaths due to human-elephant conflict, additional director general of forests (wildlife) Soumitra Dasgupta said hundreds of elephants migrate and come in contact with human beings.
More than 500 human and 100 elephant deaths take place each year due to the conflict. In last five years, the ministry has unleashed a series of activities for the conservation of elephants.
More elephant corridors have been identified, budget has been increased by 30 percent and several committees have also been formed, said Dasgupta.
During the event, Javadekar also released a booklet on best practices of human-elephant conflict management and launched the national portal of project elephant which will have all the data and details of elephant movements.