India, October 22, 2010 - India's Environment Ministry has declared the elephant a National Heritage Animal in order to increase protective measures for the country's nearly 29,000 elephants.The government made the declaration in a notice signed Thursday by A.N. Prasad, inspector general of forests and director of Project Elephant.
The notice follows a recommendation for the protective status issued October 13 by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife.
The ministry's Elephant Task Force recommended the special status for elephants in a report August 31, saying the move will help in protecting Asia's largest mammals."Declaring it the National Heritage Animal will give it due place as emblem of ecological sensitivity. It will also mark recognition for its centrality in our plural cultures, traditions and oral lore," the task force wrote in its report.
Announcing the Elephant Task Force report, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that elephants have been "part of our heritage since ages" and they should have the same degree of conservation importance given to them as is given to the tiger.