Elephant Talk: Press Release: Guwahati, 8th October 2014
The Balipara Foundation, an NGO based out of Assam, has been a leading advocate of Biodiversity Conservation of the Eastern Himalayan Region. The Foundation, in collaboration with 14 partner organizations, are organizing a unique two-day Conservation Platform on the 6th & 7th of November 14 in Guwahati, Assam. In what will, arguably, be a first-of-its-kind event in Asia where such a galaxy of eminent environmental thinkers and practitioners will get together, the occasion will include the International Conference titled “Asian Elephants in the Wild: A Dialogue” and the 2nd Balipara Foundation Awards 2014.
"Elephants are borderless creatures, but as forests become fragmented and migratory routes disappear, how do we sustain Elephant populations in the future? Elephants are to the North East what Tigers are to Ranathambore. Without Elephants there would be no forests and without forests we would be deprived of the life-sustaining services that forest ecologies provide for free- carbon sequestration, climate regulation, flood management and portable water” remarked Mr Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman- Balipara Foundation. "Fragmented habitats and disappearing migratory routes have led to a catastrophic shrinkage of elephant populations and geographic range and have left remaining populations struggling in isolated pockets".
"Asian Elephants in the Wild: A Dialogue" was conceptualized by Balipara Foundation and it’s Knowledge Partners that include IUCN, WWF, WTI, WPSI, Aaranyak, APPL Foundation, Development Alternatives, Bhutan Foundation, Elephant Family, Sanctuary Asia, National Geographic, Nature Conservancy, Rhino Foundation and Club of Rome. The conference will bring together thought leaders, conservationists, environmental activists, green gurus, sociologists, anthropologists & geographers, from both governmental & non-governmental stakeholders, to deliberate and address issues related to wildlife corridor management, human-elephant conflict mitigation and habitat sustainability mapping.
The objectives of the Dialogue are to highlight the threats and challenges facing Asian Elephant Populations in Bhutan, India & Myanmar and to chart out a Roadmap for Transboundary Conservation between the three countries. These countries are home to approximately 15000 Asian Elephants, almost 50% of the entire Asian Elephant Population.
The event will open to the screening of the Panda Oscar winning documentary “The Last Migration” directed by Mike Pandey. Speaking on the occasion Mike Pandey reiterated that "accessibility to forests that are beyond state or national boundaries are critical to the future of the Asian Elephant".
Prof. Raman Sukumar, widely acknowledged as the foremost authority on Asian Elephants, will deliver the Key Note Address. Mr Dasho Palijor J Dorji, special advisor to the National Environment Commission of Bhutan and architect of the widely acclaimed Gross Happiness Index philosophy will deliver a Special Address on behalf of the Foundation. Besides this, the dialogue will include presentations from Knowledge Partners and Invited Delegates as participants discuss and deliberate on key strategies that can be actioned on the ground. Dr Khyne U Mar, popularly known as the Elephant Lady of Myanmar, will present perspectives from Myanmar, whereas Mr Wangchuk of Bhutan Foundation will offer insights on Asian Elephants from Bhutan. Dr Peter Liemgruber of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute will present his ideas on tracking of Asian Elephant Polulations in the Bhutan-India-Myanmar Region whereas WTI and Elephant Family will present Case Studies of Elephant Corridor Initiatives in Assam and NER. Other presenters and speakers include Dr Bibhuti Lakhar-Aaranyak, Dr Piers Locke- University of Canterbury, Dr Prantep Ratanakron- Mahidol University, Mr Peter Wheeler- Nature Conservancy, Dr Ajay Desai- IUCN, Mr Vivek Menon-WTI, Ms Belinda Wright-WPSI, Mr Bittu Shegal- Sanctuary Asia and Mr Partick Mark- Elephant Family.
The conference will climax with the joint-signing of the "Key Resolutions for the Future" by all participating delegates and the formation of a Joint Action Committee to oversee all future initiatives. Mr S. Ramadorai, Chairman NSDA will deliver the Valedictory Address
Mr Robin Eastment, Operations Executive-Balipara Foundation, stated that “preliminary proposals for trans-boundary biodiversity parks connecting India & Myanmar have been shared with His Royal Highness Prince Charles through the British Asian Trust and we have received tremendous feedback in support of the initiative”