World Elephant Day is an international annual event on August 12, dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants. A day dedicated to elephants was conceived in 2011 by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims, Michael Clark and Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand. Since that time, Patricia Sims continues to lead, support and direct World Elephant Day, which is now recognized and celebrated by over 100 wildlife organizations and many individuals in countries across the globe.
The goal of World Elephant Day is to create awareness of the urgent plight of African and Asian elephants, and to share knowledge and positive solutions for the better care and management of captive and wild elephants. African elephants are listed as “Vulnerable” and Asian elephants as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. The current population estimates are about 400,000 for African elephants and 40,000 for Asian elephants, although it has been argued that these numbers are much too high.
Elephants in Nepal
Elephant is very much an integral part of Nepali culture and has been since Licchavi era of medieval Nepal. The big creature is considered to be part of god. Ganesh, one of the great deities has head of an elephant and the body alike. The great scripture mention as elephants were used in the wars like Ramayan, Mahabharat and others too. The Rana rulers were also used elephants as a means of transportation and also for the hunting events. Similarly, elites and merchants in the Terai also used to own elephants as a status symbol.
However, in the later phase, elephants are widely used to the service of tourists for jungle visits. Thus National Parks and tourism entrepreneurs based in the national parks own the domesticated elephants.
Elephants are used to control smuggling and poaching, to carry out patrolling, and also to transport staff and foods in the inner parts of the Park lacking road facility.
The role of elephants is important in park security. Elephants are used in patrolling at inner parts of the park including posts during the rainy season. Elephants are transporting park staff, foodstuff, and other goods at other posts except for 20 posts.
They rely on elephants for the treatment of the wildlife in each season. He added that they reach the injured animal riding on an elephant in the jungle.
Elephants are mobilized in patrolling, an inspection of wild animals, research bids, and taking the tourists on a tour of the park as well. The CNP is considered a better abode for elephants in Nepal as it has Elephant Breeding Centre as well.
Moreover, Nepal is home to almost 400 Asiatic Elephants, found in four major areas: KoshiTappu and Jhapa region, Chitwan and Parsa National Park region, Bardia National Park region, and Suklaphanta National Park region.
However, their use in protecting wild animals has been increased lately. Six national parks in Terai have been using domesticated elephants for the conservation of animals.
As of middle of year 2021, there are 56 elephants in the park. Of them, nine are infants, 23 are female and others are male elephants. So as 68 elephants reared in private ways are mobilised to take the tourists on safaris in the buffer zone.
There are about 200 elephants in the country and Chitwan is home of the largest number.
It is noted that the CNP is the most successful conservation project which is promoting elephant tourism in the country.
Bardiya follows Chitwan with 15 elephants while Koshitappu Wildlife Reserve, Parsa National Park, Banke National Park and Shuklaphanta National Park each has 10 elephants. About 115 elephants reared by government are mobilised for security purposes.
Bardiya National park, Nepal is well known for the growing elephant population. There are around 200 elephants are in Nepal, of which 120 are in Bardiya. They are frequently moving between Katarniyaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, India and Bardiya National Park, Nepal. Since 1994, 49 people lost their life on elephant attack and 130 become injured. Similarly, 1000s of farmer lost their crops and 100s lost their houses from the wild elephant. After 2019, 9 people are killed by Elephant and two elephants are killed in retaliation in the name of protecting crops. We are going to organize behaviour change campaign while celebrating world elephant day. Our 10 change agents (local youth volunteer) will organize total 10 behaviour change sessions with the participations of 300 local communities who are living adjoin the elephant habitat.
Elephant human conflicts
Human elephant conflict (HEC) is rapidly increasing throughout the Asian elephant range countries including Nepal. HEC occurs in the form of human deaths and injuries, and damage of crop as well as property. Experts say, they compiled 10,798 incidents of HEC including attacks on humans, crop and property losses caused by elephants in the ChureTeraiMadhesh Landscape, Nepal, between January 2001 and June 2020.
The intensity of HEC was high in the areas with higher forest fragmentation, vicinity to forests, protected areas, and larger coverage of seasonal surface water. Landscape heterogeneity, effective mesh size and altitude also contributed in HEC. Socio-economically marginalized communities living close to forests are more vulnerable to HEC.
The spatial risk map of HEC identified Jhapa and Koshi in the eastern region; Parsa and Chitwan in the central region, Bardiya and Kanchanpur in the western region as HEC hotspots. Restoration of forests and corridor functionality in these hotspots could reduce HEC. The comprehensive understanding of HEC from this study provides important insights to devise strategies and actions for mitigating the HEC at the landscape level.
ZSL Project in Nepal publishes manual on World Elephant Day
A manual for living alongside elephants in Nepal has been published by ZSL’s Nepal Elephant Project on World Elephant Day.Distribution will begin to villages and local communities throughout the lowlands of Nepal in early September.
The manual, entitled “Promoting coexistence to save the lives and wellbeing of Asian elephants and communities in lowland Nepal,” is part of a project run by ZSL (Zoological Society of London) – the conservation charity, which runs ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It aims to reduce human-elephant conflict in Nepal, with support from the Government of Nepal.
The manual, written in both Nepali and English, identities ‘hotspots’ where elephants and humans most often come into contact, so that the elephants can be avoided by local communities where possible. It also includes recommended ways to repel elephants from farms and villages that do not risk causing harm to the animals, such as audio playbacks of matriarchal elephant herds, hornets, or other sounds an elephant may find threatening. The manual also includes information on how local people can claim compensation for elephant-caused property damage or personal injury, and access to an Emergency Relief Fund, a micro-loan scheme set up by the ZSL project, to give families the vital loans they need while they wait for their compensation claims to be processed by local government