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Importance of elephants in ecosystem underlined
Debasish Baruah
 KAZIRANGA, Aug 13 - Elephants are an important component of our ecosystem, and hence needs to be protected and conserved for a better future.

Elephants being migratory in nature helps in facilitating afforestation in different locations. This was a observed by Professor (Dr) K Sharma, renowned elephant expert during his deliberation at the 6th Dr Robin Banerjee Memorial Lecture on the occasion of Nature Conservation Day programme observed at Golaghat by Kaziranga Wildlife Society.

Sharing his vast experience on the nature of elephants, Prof Sharma said constant space requirements by ever rising human population has caused a conflict with elephants since their habitats have been occupied by human beings having vested interests.

Each elephant normally eats 250 to 270 kg of fooder, including some plants seeds every day. But only 40% gets digested and the remaining is excreted as undigested waste. The undigested waste released as excreta carries seeds which helps in the growth of new plants in places and so helps create new vegetation. Thus, it causes afforestation in several places and maintains nature’s ecosystem balance, said Prof Sharma.

He also informed the gathering that there are 40,000 Asian elephants in the world. India has about 30,000, of which Assam has around 10,000 Asian elephants, which is a significant figure in terms of conservation of natural forests.

Prof Sharma said common people’s approach towards elephants in Assam is positive as they are quite sensitive, given the religious beliefs compared to other parts of the country as well as world, including some south east Asian countries.

Prof Sharma said that high power electric cables passing through most of the forest areas of Assam has been a matter of concern as some elephants in the State died in the past after it came into contact with such high power cables.

He said that experts have detected through their research work that a gene named P 53 present in elephants has anti-cancer property, hence the pachyderms normally do not suffer from any cancer-related disease.

The Director of Kaziranga National Park- cum-Tiger Reserve P Siva Kumar said, “we must conserve the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape properly if we need to protect wildlife of Kaziranga. Most of the rivers in and around Kaziranga, including Diffloo in Bagori and Kohora are getting polluted due to human activities like throwing of garbage on the rivers, which subsequently finds its way into the forests of Kaziranga. These rivers are actual sources of drinking water for the varied wildlife. So we need to have a good approach to check pollution for the greater interest of wild animals of Kaziranga National Park-cum-Tiger Reserve.”

P Siva Kumar said that highlands inside Kaziranga National Park acted as temporary relief for marooned wild animals of Kaziranga during flood. But to make more highlands, a comprehensive survey is necessary to understand the ground situation.

The secretary of Kaziranga Wildlife Society Mubina Akhtar said that a comprehensive approach is needed towards conservation of elephants in Assam, which is sometimes attacked by villagers due to crop depredations.

The president of Kaziranga Wildlife Society Indrajeet Dutta recounted that KWS was founded by late Dr Robin Banerjee and was committed towards conservation and protection of wild animals in the forest areas of Assam.

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