The Centre’s proposal to set up a National Elephant Conservation Authority (NECA) on the lines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, has cheered wildlife experts.
According to them, this measure would go a long way in protecting the dwindling elephant population of the country. They also said that the Union Government has understood the importance of conserving the elephant population.
According to an estimate, there are around 26,000 elephants in the country of which 20-25 per cent are in Karnataka. The man-elephant conflict is one of the major problems faced by the Forest Department due to decreasing forest cover, development works and man-made activities.
Wildlife and forests are always the last priority for any government. Allocation of funds for conservation activities is negligible. Hence, setting up of the NECA has definitely come as a shot in the arm for the department.
A senior forest official told Express that the 12-member task force recommended establishing the NECA.
Calling the elephant by its Sanskrit name ‘Gaja,’ the report declares: “The Task Force is crystal clear on one point. India can secure the future of Gaja and its forest home.”
The official said that the proposed authority has to be established by amending the Wildlife Act-1972. This would also help in the allocation of more funds for conservation.
The Centre has earmarked `20 crore for elephant conservation in the whole country. Karnataka’s share of around `2 crore is not sufficient. “We are optimistic that the Centre may hike the allocation once the authority comes into being. States which have high density of elephants will have a say in the authority.”
The official also said that the assistance to states for jumbo protection may also increase once the authority is set up.