Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 13th Conference of Parties (COP13) on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals at Gandhinagar through video conference today.

Speaking on the occasion, PM Modi asserted that India is one of the most diverse countries of the world. He added that with 2.4% of the world’s land area, India contributes about 8% of the known global biodiversity. The Prime Minister stressed that, for ages, conservation of wildlife and habitats has been part of the cultural ethos of India, which encourages compassion and co-existence. “Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the ethos of non violence and protection of animals and nature have been suitably enshrined in the Constitution of India and are reflected in several laws & legislations,” Modi added.

The Prime Minister spoke of the increase in India’s forest cover, which currently stands at 21.67% of the total geographical area of the country. He mentioned how India has been championing the cause of climate action through conservation, sustainable lifestyle and green development model.

Modi explained how focused species conservation programmes have shown encouraging results. “India has achieved its target of doubling the number of tigers from 1,411 in 2010, to 2,967 two years before the committed date of 2022,” he observed. He called upon Tiger Range Countries present at the Conference, and also others, to come together to strengthen tiger conservation through sharing of benchmarking practices.

PM Modi spoke of initiatives taken by India for conservation of Asian elephants. He also spoke at length of efforts to protect the snow leopard, the Asiatic lion, the one-horned rhinoceros, and the great Indian bustard. He also noted that the mascot ‘GIBI – The Great’ is a tribute to the great Indian bustard.