Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has recently stated that the Indian elephant will be declared a national heritage animal as a way to boost up the measures of its protection. According to Minister Ramesh, the elephant has been part of the Indian people's heritage for generations and should be given the same degree of importance as the tiger. He also stated that the Wildlife Protection Act of India will be amended such that there will be room for setting up the National Elephants Conservation Authority (NECA) on the lines of the National Tigers Conservation Authority (NTCA), as suggested by the panel. The amendment will be introduced in the Parliament's winter session. Minister Ramesh also recommended his officials to compose a set of guidelines for the animals' welfare to be fulfilled by temple authorities. The 12-member said that of the 25,000 elephants in India, 3,500 are in captivity. According to Mahesh Rangarajan of the panel, elephants in India have not received the same attention as tigers and any other endangered wildlife. Before the elephant, the credit of being declared national heritage animal was given to the rare and elusive Ganges River dolphin for its representation of the health of India's rivers.
I'm very pleased to find that the tiger is not the only animal to have the entire nation concerned about its future. The nation is also concerned about its elephant population, and I'm happy to see that Minister Ramesh is taking the initiative in helping the species. In my opinion, it is true that the Indian elephant has been part of our heritage for ages. People have relied on the elephant for work from timber haulers, to war machines. But those were the old days. Nowadays, the animals are favored as part of the tourist industry in which they give rides to tourists in India's national parks and pack animals. However, it's also important to understand that these animals constitute to our nation's natural heritage. I also believe that this new amendment in setting up an elephant conservation authority to work side by side with the tiger conservation authority is an effective way of protecting the two well-known endangered species that are part of our natural heritage.
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