World Elephant Day: August 12
The World Elephant Day is observed every year on August 12 to create awareness of urgent plight of African and Asian elephants. It also seeks to share knowledge and positive solutions for better care and management of captive and wild elephants. In India, cultural event Gaj Mahotsav was organised by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on this occasion of this day. It was aimed to sensitise people urgent plight of elephants through different art forms including an exhibition of elephant themed paintings and installations.
The first International Elephant Day was held on August 12, 2012. Since then observed annually and is dedicated to preservation and protection of the world’s elephants. This day was first conceived in 2011 by Michael Clark and Patricia Sims, two filmmakers from Canada, as well as Sivaporn Dardarananda, Secretary-General of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand.
This day highlights need for better protection for wild elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants etc. This day is now supported annually by more than 65 wildlife organizations and many individual around the world.
African elephants are listed as Vulnerable and Asian elephants as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. The current population estimates are about 400,000 for African elephants and 40,000 for Asian elephants. Some of the major threats faced by both African and Asian elephants are escalation of habitat loss, poaching, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity etc.
Note: Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) is one of three recognized subspecies of Asian elephant and native to mainland Asia is national heritage animal of India (declared in 2011).