Bengaluru to host its first Gaja Yatra to raise funds for elephant corridors

Bengaluru to host its first Gaja Yatra to  raise funds for elephant corridors
Forest conservation is not just protecting the landscape, but also strengthening the corridors connecting forest patches for safe movement of wildlife, especially elephants.

To drive home this message, a Gaja Yatra is being organised by Project Elephant of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Wildlife Trust of India. It a campaign to raise awareness and funds for elephants’ yatras (movement) by strengthening corridors.

In Bengaluru, the Yatra will be held for two days as part of the Samsara Festival, a conservation musical festival on Friday and Saturday.

This will be the first in Karnataka and third in India. The Yatra was launched on August 12 in Delhi followed by one in Mumbai on August 13.

Two specially made elephant sculptures will be made and displayed at UB City for sale during the 15-month-long awareness campaign.

The idea of Gaja Yatra is to increase awareness and attract as much as funds as possible. It is also to increase a sense of ownership among people of the corridor in their area. “These corridors help in mitigating man-elephant conflict. This is what people need to understand,” said Sandeep K R Tiwari, Programme Manager, IUCN.

The country is home to 27,312 elephants of which 6,049 are in Karnataka alone. Karnataka has four corridors within its state boundaries, it has five connecting to Tamil Nadu and one connecting to Kerala.

There are 101 corridors in India and each elephant kept on sale will symbolise one corridor.

“The money raised from the sale of elephants will be used for purchasing land for connecting the corridors, rehabilitating people wherever required and other forest works,” said R Sukumar, an elephant expert.

The Kanyanapura corridor (Bandipur) of Karnataka was the first to be secured by the MoEF and the Karnataka forest department. Apart from this, the ministry, along with state forest departments and WTI, has secured four more corridors — Edayarhalli-Doddasampige (Karnataka), Siju-Rewak (Meghalaya), Rewak Emangre (Meghalaya) and Tirunelli-Kudrakote (Kerala). Work is on to secure the Chilla-Motichur and Chilkiya-Kota (both in Uttarakhand) and Kalapahar-Daigurung in Assam, Tiwari added.
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