As elephants face a serious threat, thanks to rising number of man-animal conflict, loss of habitat and growing menace of poachers, the Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) on Friday celebrated Elephant Day as part of the Wildlife Week celebration. The jumbos were given a special treatment to mark the occasion.
The Zoo management adorned its seven elephants including four calves with specially designed applique apparel and the mahouts took them on a walk on the animal park premises.
The jumbos were then offered bananas and coconuts by Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra and senior officials of the Forest and Environment Department. School students, who were invited to the Zoo, had a great time mingling with baby elephants Juliee, Jagan, Chand and Gouri.
The youngest of the calves, Gouri, was orphaned before being adopted by the Zoo.
Speaking on the occasion, Mohapatra said the Government was aware of increasing number of elephant deaths in the State caused by electrocution.
“We have already chalked out plans to prevent electrocution deaths besides preparing elephant management plan to reduce man-elephant conflict,” he said.
In the last five years, more than 300 elephants have died in the State.
Accidents caused along railway tracks apart, poisoning, poaching, electrocution, natural and diseases have been the primary causes.
More than half of the elephant deaths have been unnatural though. Over 60 elephants, accounting for 20 per cent of the total deaths, were killed after coming in contact with live electric supply lines.
The bigger reason for worry is that many of these were cases of deliberate electrocution.
To celebrate the day, a drawing competition among students was held. Winners in senior and junior categories were rewarded.
Zoo Director Sudarshan Panda said the significance of Elephant Day is to spread awareness among people about the large mammal and sensitise them about its conservation. Secretary, Forest and Environment Department, RK Sharma, Chief Wildlife Warden JD Sharma, Deputy Director of Nandankanan Manoj Nayar and Assistant Director KL Purohit were also present. Nandankanan, which receives close to 30 lakh visitors annually, has been celebrating Elephant Day on October 4 since 2005.