Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary (Assam), April 21 : Over a hundred jumbos in Assam were rallied during the 6th annual Elephant festival in Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary last week.
The three-day annual elephant festival attracted many animal lovers concluded yesterday.
Organized by the State tourism department, the three-day festival offered an opportunity for domestic and foreign tourists to sample some of the ecological and cultural diversity of the region.
"During 2003, the government of Assam decided to introduce and organize a festival wherein we could highlight the relations between elephants and human beings here in our society. So, accordingly, we started this festival and we got a lot of response from people," said Mohan Chandra Malakar, a member of Wild Life Assam (WLA).
The jungles in the northeast part of India are viewed as home to thousands of elephants which amount to almost half of country's elephant population. But in recent years, there were several incidents of elephants conflicting with human beings.
The growing conflict is stated to be the result of elephants' traditional habitats being encroached upon by human beings.
On various occasions, elephants have been raiding military depots, drinking liquor, terrorising and killing villagers, destroying their farm houses and leaving a trail of destruction in large parts of Assam.
"The main problem comes from the degradation of bio-diversity of Kaziranga national park....besides there are other problem also...," said D. N. Dutta, a visitor.
Kaziranga that has tall thickets of grass is an ideal habitat for elephants, and the one-horned rhino, tigers, wild buffaloes, sloth bears, tigers and deer.
Elephants were revered in India. But, gradually, the respect for the animals and the taboo against killing them has been worn down.
These elephants usually fall victim to increased poaching for ivory and their habitats disappear. Many stray out of the forest to block roads and rail tracks or look for food in built-up areas.
Some emerge from the jungle every year to take advantage of the paddy harvest while others have discovered a taste for local liquor, and drink everything they can lay their trunks on. By Peter Alex Todd