Out of the 35,000 or so Asian elephants on the planet, 27,000+ are in India. But this cultural icon and natural treasure is on the verge of extinction because of illegal human activities and lack of enforcement, resulting from poor communication between agencies and decision makers. The Gentle Giant Summit in Kerala, India will strengthen inter-agency communication and cooperation. It will empower stakeholders with knowledge and tools to enforce existing laws and protect the Gentle Giants.
Bull Asian elephants are disappearing rapidly - many being slaughtered for the illicit ivory trade, some abducted from the wild and transported illegally between states for cultural festivals. Out of the 27,000+ wild elephants in India, approximately. 1,200 are bulls, causing gender disparity, and threatening the long-term species survival. Despite the existence of animal welfare laws, poor communication between key stakeholders/ decision makers has made it difficult to enforce laws and slap penalties.
The Gentle Giant Summit to be held in May/June 2019 (in Kerala) will bridge communication gap between key stakeholders, bringing them together under one roof. It will connect the dots between wildlife crime and terrorism while exploring the ecological significance of elephants. By delving deeper into issues that tear apart the fabric of human and elephant societies, and the long-term ramifications, authorities will be inspired to cooperate, and enforce existing laws and impose penalties.
Knowledge will aid decision and lawmakers to create policies and legislation that will curb wildlife crimes, especially those related to the slaughter of the critically endangered bull Asian elephants. The summit will foster open communication, and inspire collaborative decision making, closing legal loopholes, and empowering the authorities to enforce stringent penalties. This, we believe will result in a reduction of wildlife crime and ultimately help to protect India's heritage animal.
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Government ministries and relevant private stakeholders, such as electrical companies and railways, were working in silos, totally unaware of the unprecedented elephant deaths caused by train collisions and sagging wires resulting from poor maintenance. In November 2019, VFAES, in collaboration with the Kerala Forest Department, brought these entities and policy makers under one roof for the first time ever, to ensure legislative changes are holistic, inclusive, and well-informed, reflecting the welfare of people and elephants. The success of this project has catapulted another summit in West Bengal.