President Droupadi Murmu Friday urged people to treat elephants with compassion and keep elephant corridors free from obstructions to facilitate their easy movement.
If a deep analysis of the human-elephant conflict (HEC) is carried out, it is evident that there are obstructions along their natural corridors and “humans are responsible for this”, Murmu said.
“Elephants are wise and kind animals, and people should treat them with compassion,” the President said at the inauguration of the 'Gaj Utsav-2023' here on the second day of her Assam visit. Dealing with HEC is both the aim and challenge of ‘Project Elephant’, which is completing 30 years, she said.
“It is our duty to conserve elephant corridors as these can serve as carbon sink and help people tackle the challenges of climate change,” Murmu said, as she called upon all stakeholders to join hands to deal with the situation.
“The elephant is our national heritage animal and by protecting it, we are protecting our national heritage,” the President said. Elephants live in herds and if anyone faces trouble, others help overcome it. “This is something that humans must learn.”
Referring to the Oscar-winning documentary 'Elephant Whisperers', she said the adivasi community has a deep love for nature, birds and animals. “I also had an attachment with elephants since childhood and when I saw Bellie and Bomman (characters in the documentary) taking care of the orphaned elephants, I felt proud of them.
“What further touched me was that they always entered the forests barefoot as a mark of respect, and today when I took the jeep safari in the Kaziranga National Park, the officials and guards told me that they also accord the same respect to forests,” Murmu said. Assam has the second highest population of elephants in the country, and a considerable number of domesticated elephants, she said.
“It is, therefore, undoubtedly the right place where the ‘Gaj Utsav’ should be held... Nature is also inextricably linked with festive occasions and Assam's 'Bihu' is an example of this,” Murmu added. Assam Governor Gulab Chand Kataria and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma were among those present on the occasion.