• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

News

Renowned elephant conservationist to speak at UK parliament on Asian elephant crisis

As a keystone species, the survival of Asian elephants holds significance for numerous other species that depend on them

Given the global interconnectedness of ecosystems, the protection of endangered megaherbivores like Asian elephants is essential for the well-being of ecosystems not only in India but also worldwide (Representative Image: iStock)

By: easterneye.biz Staff

Indian/Canadian elephant conservationist Sangita Iyer, in collaboration with Tory MP Henry Smith, is set to address the UK Parliament on Monday (19) regarding the pressing crisis faced by Asian elephants in India.

With a focus on their last remaining stronghold, Iyer and Smith aim to engage other Members of Parliament and urge Indian authorities to take immediate action against the preventable threats causing elephant deaths, including electrocution, poaching, and habitat loss.

The alarming rate of elephant killings in India, where 60% of the world’s remaining 40,000 Asian elephants reside, emphasises the critical importance of safeguarding this species.

As a keystone species, the survival of Asian elephants holds significance for numerous other species that depend on them.

Iyer, an accomplished journalist, biologist, and award-winning filmmaker, brings her extensive experience and commitment to the cause.

Iyer, a renowned journalist, biologist, and founder of the Voice for Asian Elephants Society (VFAES), is a multi-award-winning filmmaker. Her documentary, “Gods in Shackles,” received a nomination from the United Nations and exposed the mistreatment of India’s “sacred” temple elephants in the name of religion.

Dr Jane Goodall (DBE) provided the foreword for Iyer’s best-selling book titled “Gods in Shackles: What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience, and Freedom.”

With the distinction of being a two-time Nat Geo Explorer, Iyer has dedicated her life to the protection of Asian elephants.

She has actively worked to protect Asian elephants on the ground, including the recent acquisition of a 4-acre plot in Kerala’s North Nilambur region, dedicated to “re-wilding” and creating a safe passage for over 340 elephants.

Additionally, Iyer’s initiatives involve installing EleSense devices near railway tracks to alert train operators of elephant presence, thereby saving 88 elephants this year alone.

Smith, known for his advocacy in animal welfare and conservation, has been instrumental in passing two historic bills in the House of Commons: Animals (Low Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill and the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill.

The collaborative efforts of Iyer and Smith aim to raise awareness among UK parliamentarians, urging them to take immediate action to prevent the extinction of Asian elephants.

Furthermore, they encourage lawmakers, business leaders, and celebrities to join their cause and contribute to the conservation of these remarkable and vital climate champions.

The meeting, scheduled for June 19, 2023, will take place at 2:00 pm in the Jubilee Room, an established venue within the UK Parliament for animal welfare events.

The urgency to protect Asian elephants arises from the significant loss of their habitats due to rampant development activities, such as mining, electrocution, railways, roadways, and agriculture.

Forest fires, often ignited by arsonists and poachers to lure wildlife, further exacerbate the threats faced by these majestic creatures.

Over the past decade, nearly 1,200 elephants have been killed in India, with 245 deaths occurring in the central state of Odisha, which is plagued by extensive mining.

Studies indicate that elephants play a critical role in mitigating climate change, as highlighted by the International Monetary Fund’s research on African forest elephants.

Although no formal studies have been conducted on Asian elephants, their contributions to climate change mitigation are presumed significant.

Given the global interconnectedness of ecosystems, the protection of endangered megaherbivores like Asian elephants is essential for the well-being of ecosystems not only in India but also worldwide.

Iyer notes, “Countries may have borders, but climate change does not.”

She adds, “We are all connected in this magnificent web of life, so what happens to elephants in India will have a cascading effect. Recent amendments to the Wildlife Protection Act will embolden elephant captures, liberalize exploitation and make the situation dire.”

Smith adds, “Trophy hunters now shoot so many elephants that, when we add the numbers that are poached, more elephants are killed each year than are born. Moreover, trophy hunters are shooting the biggest elephants with the biggest tusks. That is leading to artificial selection: only smaller-tusked elephants are surviving and passing on their genes.”

The Voice for Asian Elephants Society (VFAES), a registered 501(c)(3) organisation, spearheads efforts to safeguard endangered Asian elephants and their habitats in India. The organisation aims to ensure the fulfillment of basic needs for local communities residing near forest fringes, fostering peaceful coexistence with these magnificent animals.

Related Stories
Videos

Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…

Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…

Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…