Over 60 school students from across the Nilgiris were sensitised about the Asian elephants, and the need to protect them, by the Forest Department in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) on Friday.
The initiative was undertaken as part of the World Elephant Day celebrations. The event began with an awareness drive involving school students in Masinagudi, where members of the public as well as the children were told about the importance of elephants to forest health, and their role in the ecosystem.
The children, who were from four schools from Udhagamandalam as well as Bokkapuram, Masinagudi and Vazhaithottam, were then taken to the Theppakadu elephant camp where they were introduced to camp elephants.
P. Arunkumar, Deputy Director of MTR (Buffer Zone), said that the children were shown the captive elephants and were briefed about the activities at the elephant camp, including how the elephants are cared for, and are also used to mitigate negative interactions between humans and wildlife.
“The children were also told how elephant habitats are continuing to shrink due to habitat loss, leading to more negative interactions between the animals and people and how we can learn to co-exist with them through a documentary screened at the camp,” he said.
Mr. Arunkumar said that there were estimated to be around 4,000 Asian elephants in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR), making it a crucial landscape for conservation policies to be implemented, with the co-operation of local communities.
Also present at the celebrations was B. Ramakrishnan, Assistant Professor at the Department of Zoology and Wildlife Biology at the Government Arts College in Udhagamandalam.