Haryana signs agreement with Wildlife SOS to protect elephants

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New Delhi, Jul 9 (UNI) The Government of Haryana and Wildlife SOS (NGO) have signed an historic agreement for establishment and management of country's first Elephant Rehabilitation and Research Centre at Ban Santour, District Yamunanagar (Haryana).

The agreement was signed here late last evening in the presence Ms Kiran Choudhry, Haryana Minister of Forest, Environment, Tourism, Sports and Youth Affairs. It was signed by R D Jakati IFS, APCCF-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana, on behalf of the Government of Haryana and Kartick Satayanarayan on behalf of Wildlife SOS.

Briefing newspersons here today, Ms Chaudhry said 50-acre land has already been provided for infrastructural needs and another 400 acre of land has been demarcated for protection of elephants from cruelty which will serve as an elephant camp.

Giving details of the project, Ms Choudhry said due to the excessive development, forests were under great pressure and natural habitat of wild animals was shrinking. She said Haryana Government was committed to preserve flora and fauna at all costs.

She said this elephant would go a long way in generating awareness among people about the real threat to wildlife and also rehabilitatation of illegally kept domestic elephants.

She said 'initially, the center will function as an elephant camp and after obtaining due permissions from the Supreme Court and Central Zoo Authority, it will become a fullfledged rehabilitation rescue and research center and will be opened to public. Domestic elephants which are illegally kept could be sent to this center', she added.

Ms Choudhry said the Ban Santor is a protected forest area which is close to Sal forest of Kalesar and Kalesar wildlife sanctuary.

This area is undulating and is a natural home of elephants. Elephants come to this area from nearby Uttrakhand State on a regular basis.

Ms Choudhry said at wildlife SOS was also running a Bear rescue center at Agra and at four other places for the last 12 years in the Country.

Ms Choudhry said initially a sum of Rs 90 lakh would be provided by the Central Government for setting up of this Centre.

The Centre, first of its kind in the country would not be like a zoo but it would serve as a natural habitat to the elephants.

Mahawats would be engaged to protect and train the elephants. The recurring expenditure would also be borne out by the Centre, she added.

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