Yes, elephants are considered sacred in India. The country possesses vast biodiversity harboring numerous animals. Its rich fauna is often spoken about and is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries today. Indians perceive elephants as an embodiment of Lord Ganesha, who uses a mouse as his vehicle.
People also use elephant figurines in their homes to manifest their love for the animal and pay homage to it. In south India, elephants carry Nettipattam, which is an essential part of their culture. It is a part of Buddhism and also has a religious connotation.
However, the elephant population in India has declined by 98 percent, leaving only 27,000 elephants. The advancement of the economy can be attributed to these dwindling numbers.
India has been known to have an intimate connection with wildlife. Earlier, elephants were used in royal families as a chariot or even as a transportation mode to fight vehicles. Elephant figurines have been popularized, owing to this revered status.
Even though there are laws in place to safeguard the lives of elephants, their numbers continue to deplete. Under the wildlife protection act of India, animals enjoy safety. A decade ago the population of elephants was far greater than it is today. But because of poaching, habitat defragmentation, pollution, and construction, the animal species is vastly suffering.
Wildlife SOS was created to safeguard India’s fauna. Initially, they streamlined their efforts towards shielding elephants who had undergone significant abuse. Eventually, they shifted their focus to saving the cultural heritage of our country by safeguarding elephant lives. Not many people are aware of the illegal elephant trades that take place.
It is organized by crime syndicates who are after the elephant ivory and has led to a substantial loss of elephant lives. Elephant poaching not only endangers the species but also threatens the lives of people surrounding this area. In India, selling ivory is illegal and strict actions are being taken against such nefarious activities.
The government is actively working towards unearthing sellers and buyers who indulge in this practice and putting a stop to it. The number of elephants that are sacrificed during poaching could have been used to reproduce more of them and hence pose a serious concern about their population decline.
These animals are captivated, where they undergo significant abuse, attacking their mental and physical well-being. Elephants being confined here suffer from a plethora of conditions such as foot-rot, arthritis, etc. They do not receive adequate nutrition, resulting in different illnesses.
Once these animals are unfit to a point of being useless to the recruiters, they dispose of them. Wildlife SOS has established different hospitals to safeguard elephants and maintain their livelihood. They help revive these depressed animals and also educate people about why poaching is illegal and must be steered clear of at every expense.
These philanthropic measures might be working gradually but are manifesting results. The elephant population may not have drastically augmented but is steadily rising.
Distressed elephants now have a home with Wildlife SOS which extends its care in places like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, and Kerala. They focus on improving the quality of life for captive elephants and nurse them back to care. But the challenge of the rising population is a matter that has to be dealt with dexterously.