Lessons to be learnt from Emperor Ashoka and Kautilya Asian Elephant Secretariat launched today

The two day Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum organised by the Balipara Foundation had started on 8th November in the College of Veterinary Science at Khanapara wherein discussions, presentations and plenary sessions were held behind the backdrop of the critical biodiversity the Eastern Himalayas. The College of Veterinary Sessions was moderated by Dr. R. N. Goswami, Dean, College of Veterinary Science, Assam Agricultural University and in his welcome address Dr. Goswami stressed on habitat protection over specific species protection and laid concern in the lack of veterinary experts in forest department. Mr Ranjit Barthakur, Founder Trustee, Baliapra Foundation and the Architect of Naturenomics Model in his address highlighted the primary aims and objectives of the forum – nurturing the biodiversity of the Eastern Himalayas of which Notrth Eastern region is a major part and honouring the eco-champions of the year.

Dr K.K. Sarma of College of Veterinary Science, Assam Agricultural University, which is a partner in the EHNF 2016, moderated the Veterinary College portion of the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum. He explained how from the epic ages elephant played an important role and how today elephants are used in anti-poaching activities, tranquilizing operation and tourism. Dr Khyne U Mar of the University of Sheffield, UK presented the effect of climate on survival patterns of Myanmar timber elephants. Dr Apurba Chakraborty Dir of AAU spoke on herpes viral infection and responses on elephants. It was agreed that captive elephants are the ‘Ambassadors’ for the species and also help taming the ones in the wild. Lisa Mills introduced the Elephant Friendly certification programme for product like tea, coffee, spice which helps in identifying products that go through elephant safety practices and helps reduce human elephant conflict.

Julie Stein spoke of critical issues on captive elephants and the urgent need of ethical guidelines. Dr Khyne U Mar from the University of Sheffield, UK explained how ecology, elephant and ecotourism are interlinked with each other. While highlighting three main points in the utilization pattern of elephants in Myanmar and laid emphasis on regulation of elephant welfare standards and Mahout training. Susan K. Mikota of ECI elaborated on tuberculosis and herpes - two concerns in health issues of elephants.  John Roberts introduced the Asian Elephant Working Group whose mission is to create a function international working group.

The Vivanta by Taj Session in the afternoon began with the launch of the Asian Elephant Secretariat followed by an inspiring lecture by noted environment lawyer Bruce Rich of the Environmental Law Institute, USA. Mr Rich spoke on conservation lessons from Emperor Ashoka and the legendary ancient bureaucrat Kautilya. He spoke on how the emperor emphasized the need to protect species and habitats with specific reference to elephants. His philosophy was deeply rooted in South Asian cultures specifically the culture of Dharma. Mr Rich said “Kautilya in Emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya’s regime placed importance on the relationship on earth, nature and humans. His views were seen to be more utilitarian and he was better known for his views on foreign policy”. He said “The 5th pillar lists animals exempted from slaughter and called for the protection of all four footed animals that are not eaten. It also depicted important messages for conservations such as fields not being set on fire in order to protect the animals.” The Taj Vivanta Session was moderated by Nicholas Claxton and chaired by Prof. Raman Sukumar with debates on questions on the Asian elephant - are we succeeding?  Are we actually manufacturing more domesticated elephants? What will be the measures of success? Participants included from around the around the world came from US, UK, China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and India deliberated in both the sessions of the day.



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