Save Elephant

Creating awareness about Asian Elephants
( Extract from paper presented by Dr.Susan Sharma at Elephant Symposium, Hardwar, 2001)

Before deciding on a strategy to disseminate information, it helps if one has a fair idea of the state of elephant awareness in the country. A brief questionnaire was administered to a geographically disperse, but educated sample of Indians from various walks of life.

Annexure I
Quiz to assess present level of awareness.

Quiz on elephants: Correct answer is shown in bold letters.

1. Asian elephants have a life span of --------------- years.

30-40 years 60-70 years80-90 years

2. Asian elephants were widely tamed more than ---------------- ago.

• 1000 years • 2000 years 4000 years

3. The forest department used the method of ----------------to catch wild elephants in India.

•Kumki Khedda •Khotal

4.The lustrous white dentin called ivory are actually--------------------- of elephants.

•upper molars upper incisorshorns

5. Elephant families are--------------------------

•patriarchal matriarchal •neither of these.

6. Elephant babies are carried by their mothers for---------------months.

•9 months •5 months •22 months

7. 'If the tiger is the spirit of the jungle, the elephant is its body' Who wrote these words?

•Katharine Payne •Dereck Joubert •Raman Sukumar

8. To ensure long term survival of elephants, in addition to forests, forest--------------are to be protected.

•paths •fauna corridors

9. The species closest to elephants are,

•rhinos •hippos dugongs

10.The national animal of India is the ---------------------

•elephant •tiger •lion

You are in the age group:

Below 18 years
Between 19 and 30
Between 31 and 50
Above 50 years

Study Area

The sample group is drawn from various age groups as shown in the Table I below.


  Below 18 Between 19 & 30 Between 31 & 50 Above 50
Kerala 4 7 11 3
Chandigarh 139 3 8 1
Delhi 12 40 14 4
Mumbai 11 19 13 3
Online 2 16 15 5
Total respondents 168 85 61 16

There are a total of 330 respondents drawn from Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, and Kerala as well as respondents who attempted the questionnaire online.
The sample population can be considered to be representing the educated cream of the nation since; they are drawn from the two metros and the two states of India with 100% literacy. The respondents online are members of the IndianWildlifeClub.com drawn from all over the world. Out of the total of 330 respondents, only 15 were non-Indians. Hence they have not been considered as a separate group for the purpose of analysis.


Level of awareness is measured in four stages
Stage1: 0-2 correct answers- little or no awareness of wildlife
Stage 2: 3-4 correct answers- some awareness -Could be a segment willing to learn more
Stage 3: 5-6 correct answers- aware segment: Can be motivated to take more active roles
Stage 4: 7-10 correct answers - committed wildlife lovers-May be already active in their areas in spreading awareness -Can be networked to have a core group of committed conservationists.

The answers are analyzed to examine the possible commitment to conservation in this sample population. Responders with a minimum general knowledge about elephants are likely to be indifferent to conservation. Those with a more in depth knowledge are likely supporters. As educationists and awareness creators, our aim must be to increase the number of people to the second level of awareness where they will support and few will even commit their energies to conservation of elephants.

Summary of analyzed results:

Marks Below 18 Between 19 & 30 Between 31 & 50 Above 50 Total respondents Percentage of respondents
0 to 2 28 10 3 2 43 13
3 to 4 77 39 18 2 136 41
5 to 6 50 28 25 9 112 34
7 to 10 13 8 15 3 39 12
Total respondents 168 85 61 16 330 100

Discussion of the results

The majority of respondents were in the range of 3 to 4 correct answers i.e., - Some awareness -Could be a segment willing to learn more. Out of a total of 330 respondents 136 viz., 41% fell in this category.
Of the total respondents, 112 got marks between 5 and 6, i.e., aware segment: Can be motivated to take more active roles.
The respondents with little or no knowledge formed 13 % and those in the category of committed wildlife lovers formed 12 %.















Marks and % Of respondents Kerala Chandigarh Delhi Mumbai Online Total
0 to 2 4 17 11 13 5 13
3 to 4 40 42 52 41 19 41
5 to 6 48 31 37 33 34 34
7 to 10 8 10 0 13 42 12
Total respondents 100 100 100 100 100 100



The region wise results also show that maximum number of people is in the 3 to 6 marks range. As educators and awareness creators we need to target 88% of the sample population, which have scored less than 7 marks. . The percentage of 88% who scored less than 7out of 10 in the quiz may be taken as an indicator of the percentage of population in need of wildlife education, in particular awareness about elephants as the quiz questions were limited to elephant related questions. The survey applies to educated, English speaking populations only. It will be interesting to know what the results would be if the survey is done in regional languages. We noted that nomenclature in Hindi for the rhino, which is Genda Hathhi, created ample confusion about the elephant and rhino being of the same species.
With tiger conservation projects and awareness campaigns being held in many parts of the country, one would have expected all the respondents to give correct answers to the question of national animal. But 54 respondents i.e., 18% gave wrong answers to this question.
Needless to say, the survey is a mere indicator and more meaningful results can be obtained by similar surveys covering larger populations.
All the same, the major question, which concerns us, namely is there need for more awareness campaigns to make the elephant conservation projects a success, is answered in no unambiguous terms. 88% of the people surveyed (all those who scored less than7 in the quiz) can do with awareness programs in some form or other.
That brings us to the next question. How do we get a generation used to fast cars and loud music get interested in these gentle creatures, which need protection?

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