NW DELHI: Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday said the man-animal conflict was an "existential crisis for humans" rather than animals.
Pointing out that protection of wilderness and forests was a must for preserving wildlife, the minister said there was a need for optimising conservation efforts.
He was addressing a gathering to celebrate 'World Elephant Day' as 'Gaj Mahotsav', after presenting the 'Best Elephant Warrior Award' to late Mani Kandan.
Kandan, a senior Indian Forest Service officer at Karnataka's Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, was trampled to death by a tusker on March 4, when he went inside the jungle to assess the damage caused by a forest fire.
Prabhu acknowledged the sacrifice of Kandan and his family on the occasion.
According to the Environment Ministry, as per the 2017 census, there are about 30,000 Asian elephants left, confined to South Asia and Southeast Asia. About 60 per cent of the global population of Asian elephants is found in India.
Special Secretary Siddhanta Das in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that if elephants were confined to one place, nature's linkage will be broken and pointed to the need to protect the habitat and corridors of elephants.
In 2010, elephants were declared a National Heritage Animal.
The day focused on improving enforcement policies to prevent illegal poaching and trade in ivory, conserving elephants' habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing some captive elephants into sanctuaries, an official statement said.