One of the most powerful animals to walk this Earth, the majestic elephant has always been a symbol of national pride and integral to India’s rich culture and heritage. India owes its rich natural wealth to its majestic elephants. They are the creators of forests & ecosystem engineers that help all other species survive in the jungle.

However, today, the situation for elephants in India is worrisome and painted with gloom and doom. To meet the requirements of an increasing population and to deliver on its ambitious economic goals, our rich wildlife is slowly being sacrificed and succumbing to anthropogenic pressures. As a result, the elephants are losing their all- their habitats, their familial herds, their natural instinct and their need to freely migrate long distances is being taken away. We wonder- are we snatching away from our elephants the chance to just be elephants?

Out of the 88 identified elephant corridors in India, 21 have railway tracks running through them. The knowledge of these corridors is passed on between elephants from generations to generations, thus walking through these corridors is a natural instinct for these majestic animals. As the resources in their fragmented pockets become scarcer, these elephants are pushed to cross railway tracks in search for food often to meet their fatal end. It comes as no surprise then that since the year of 1987 to July 2017, 266 elephants lost their lives. This year itself till June, at least 15 elephants were killed! It would be naïve for us to expect for these elephants to cease walking through their historic corridors as we humans continue to invade their rightful space.

Another major crisis on our hands is human–elephant conflict. As more and more forests are being destroyed to create space for new agricultural lands, it comes as no surprise that incidents of crop-raiding, destruction of property and loss of human lives have escalated. However, such conflicts are avoidable- with the help of scientific wildlife tracking techniques and rigorous community engagement and sensitization, a safe space for both farmers and elephants can be created. This is an important piece of puzzle towards elephant conservation!

Poaching for captivity is also a serious threat faced by Asian elephants. The rich cultural and natural heritage of India attracts a substantial footfall of tourists every year. For most tourists, interaction with elephants tops their bucket-list item and sadly, misinformation often leads them to places where captive elephants are used to lure and extort money from tourists. The sad truth of captivity that a baby elephant is poached from the wild at a tender age of 2 from its natural habitat and familial herd is cleverly blanketed with “joy” of checking one item off your bucket list!

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, said “It has now become the norm to open the newspaper and read horrifying news of elephants dying due to unnatural, anthropogenic reasons. This normalisation of unnatural deaths of elephants in India is alarming to say the least. The survival of Asian elephants today lies in the hands of us- conservationists, policy-makers, practitioners and local communities alike. As today marks World Elephant Day, we hope that the future our elephants will turn brighter!”

Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder & Secretary of Wildlife SOS said, “The population of Asian elephants over the last ten decades has decreased by 90% and with a population of 23,000 to 27,000 Asian elephants India remains the last stronghold of the species. Thus, the survival of the entire species is critically linked with its survival in India.”

Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) are listed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Indian based charity Wildlife SOS first put their concern about the plight of India’s elephants in 2009 and established a one-of-a-kind Elephant Conservation and Care Center (ECCC) in 2010. The centre currently providing lifetime care and treatment for over 20 rehabilitated pachyderms, rescued from illegal captivity and circuses where they were ill-treated and subjected to cruelty. Wildlife SOS is committed to providing them a safer, happier and healthier life post-rescue by giving them a life of freedom, companionship, and a chance to simply be elephants again.

For more information contact Arinita Ph. 9560011875 - email

Wildlife SOS (WSOS) is a non-profit charity established in 1998 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India. We actively run wildlife and nature protection projects to promote conservation, combat poaching & illegal wildlife trade. We work in partnership with the Government and indigenous communities to create sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities. The Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center was established in 2010 & houses over 20 elephants with elephant care facilities.