Campaign to Protect the Asian Elephant

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The Asian elephant, once prevalent throughout many areas of India, is now listed as an endangered species by the Indian Government and included on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The factors leading to steep population declines in all five major elephant habitats include: rapid human population growth that has resulted in shrinking habitat; major reductions in elephant “exclusive zones” and elephant “buffer zones;” and increased human-elephant conflicts, including poaching and an extraordinary increase in railway accidents, resulting from an Indian government decision to increase the range, size, and speed of railways throughout the elephants’ habitat. 

Unlike elephant populations threatened by large scale poaching, the threats plaguing Asian elephant populations in India can be greatly reduced through three strategies: organizing community-led on the ground interventions; eliminating the Indian Railway exemption from the Environmental Impact Assessment process; and developing broad based public support for elephant protection.  

To reverse the Asian elephant population decline, Earth Day Network India (EDN-India) has launched a three year campaign to:

  • Initiate public interest litigation against the Indian government to eliminate the EIA exemption for railway activities.
  • Launch a pan-India campaign build and mobilize a broader national citizen’s movement to support the elimination of the EIA exemption and to protect the Asian Elephants, Rhinos and Tigers.
  • Engage local community and other stakeholders in one of India’s most important elephant habitats in a one year pilot program to develop and implement a comprehensive protection plan, including a simple but effective Early Warning System to reduce elephant deaths to zero from railway accidents.
  • Develop  and implement an environmental stewardship ethic among local community stakeholders, including community leaders and small and local government leaders.
EDN will also provide monthly medical services to the local communities that are participating in this effort. Past programs in the region and in other countries have combined monthly or bi-monthly basic medical services to local volunteers and have been extremely successful. Regional medical professional have agreed to provide basic community services to at least half of the local population, including pre- and post-natal services as well as basic check-ups and eye exams. This is a relatively local cost effort that will help develop local community support for and participation in the program. This effort will be coordinated with the India Tea Association.

EDN will also work with Apne Aap Worldwide Women and India’s NGOs, working on sex trafficking who are anxious to provide information to local populations but which do not have a direct delivery system. EDN is combining badly needed services and employment to local populations as well as providing avenues for education on environmental and sex trafficking issues. 

EDN staff will work with villages holding regular meetings with community leaders, parents, and children. We will also use films and educational materials in the local languages to educate village leaders, parents, and children about the methods that sex traffickers use to capture and transport children. 

Land of the Missing Children:

EDN’s advisor is Ruchira Gupta, a globally recognized expert in sex trafficking.  Ruchira directed the award winning film “Land of the Missing Children” about sex trafficking in Alipurduar-New Jalpaiguri, the same area where EDN will conduct the the pilot program. Ruchira received the Clinton Global Leadership Award and has also received recognition in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords and at the United Nations.

To save the Asian elephant from extinction, Earth Day Network is joining with community leaders, lawyers, school children, elephant experts, teachers, and local government officials in an ambitious effort. Please help support this campaign.