The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the Gaj Utsav-2023 at the Kaziranga National Park today (April 7, 2023).
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that there is a very sacred relationship between nature and humanity. The culture of respecting nature has been the identity of our country. In India, nature and culture have been linked to each other and have been receiving nourishment from each other. Elephants have been most respected in our tradition. It has been considered a symbol of prosperity. It is the National Heritage Animal of India. Therefore, protecting elephants is an important part of our national responsibility to preserve our national heritage.
The President said that the actions which are in the interest of nature, animals and birds, are also in the interest of humanity and Mother Earth. The forests and green areas of Elephant Reserves are very effective carbon sinks. Therefore, it can be said that all of us will be benefited by the conservation of elephants and it will also help in facing the challenges of climate change. Participation of society along with the government is necessary in such efforts.
The President said that elephants are considered as very intelligent and sensitive animals. They are also social animals like humans. She said that we should have the same sense of sympathy and respect for elephants and other living beings as we have for humans. She added that we can learn the feeling of selfless love from animals and birds.
The President said that the ‘Human-Elephant Conflict’ has been an issue for centuries. And when we analyze this conflict, it is found that a barrier created in the natural habitat or movement of elephants is the root cause. Therefore, the responsibility of this conflict lies with the human society. She noted that protecting elephants, conserving their natural habitats and keeping elephant corridors free from obstruction are the main objectives of Project Elephant. Solving the problems related to Human-Elephant Conflict is also the aim of this project. She said that all these objectives are related to each other.
The President said that Kaziranga and Manas National Parks of Assam are invaluable heritage not only of India but of the whole world. That is why these have been given the status of ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO. She noted that Assam has the second largest population of wild elephants in the country. Therefore Kaziranga is a very apt place for organizing the Gaj-Utsav. She emphasized that for the success of Project Elephant and Gaj-Utsav, all the stakeholders would have to move forward together.