NEW DELHI: Efforts to conserve the Asiatic elephant will not only help conserve the natural forest land but also other animals including tigers, says wildlife photographer Rajesh Bedi.
"Conserving Asiatic elephants requires a great effort. They need to be provided with huge resources of water and food to ensure their survival in the wild. In the bigger picture, such efforts to conserve these giant mammals will automatically trickle down to benefit the tigers," he says.
A collection of rare photographs of the Asiatic elephant by Bedi form a part of an exhibition at India Habitat Centre here.
Conveying the message of "elephant extinction", the exhibition titled "Elephant - the divine mystery," consists of unique clicks of groups of tuskers in their wild habitat.
"The collection of photographs here capture these animals in all their moods. The government is trying its best to conserve these animals through the Project Elephant launched in 1992," Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, said while inaugurating the exhibition last evening.
Around forty photos from Bedi's vast collection on elephants are on display at the exhibition. Many more are soon to appear in a large format book, which will also include tales of his adventures in search of that perfect elephant photograph.
"We cannot know the mind of an elephant, but these intelligent, expressive creatures share much with us. Intensely social animals, they have large brains, famously long memories and they appear to express a wide range of emotions," says Bedi.
"India without wild elephants is unthinkable, and yet fewer than thirty thousand remain in India's forests today," he says.
The relentless expansion of agriculture and industry is closing in on the last fragments of natural forest and grassland. Straying outside these enclaves, as they often do; elephants inevitably come into violent conflict with man.
"They are curious to know us, and we are curious to know them. But humans have lost that fine line where they should stop. That is causing the conflict," says the acclaimed photographer.
Thrissur Pooram, a popular festival in Kerala, involves the adorning of about thirty elephants with golden headdresses. They are made to stand in the sun without food or water for long hours, often leading to many incidents of the animal getting agitated, and grievously hurting bystanders.
"Such atrocities against animals must be stopped. While elephants can communicate among themselves, we fail to understand them. It is the nature's course over us, no matter how intelligent we think we are," says the Lifetime photography award winner.
A journey of almost 45 years of capturing wildlife, and elephants in particular, Bedi has enough experience to understand the creatures well. This knowledge, he says, helped him capture the minute details of the wild elephants.
"The elephant, for me is a mystical creature they are the yogis of the forest. The more you go in; the more you get involved, you want to know more about them," he says.
The exhibition is set to continue till September 10.