Baby Asian Elephants On A Mission in London
Published 10 June 2010
The Elephant Family – the UK’s only charity that deals solely with the protection of Asian elephants and their habitat – organises the most colourful outdoor art event London has ever seen. From May to July 2010 we can enjoy the view of exactly 258 baby elephant statues, richly decorated by artists like Julien Macdonald, Marc Quinn, Paul Smith; even Tommy Hilfiger was involved and painted one of the elephants.
The first time I met some of these colourful elephant statues happened in South Bank, not far from the National Theatre. I only saw tourists standing in a circle, and being late night, it took some time to realize what had caused the little traffic jam on the path. When each and every person from the group had their photo, only than did I have the space to enjoy the sweet, multicoloured baby elephants. I had never heard about the project before, but fortunately, the Elephant Family supplied each baby elephant statue with a short description of the issue of the endangered Asian elephant.
The Elephant Parade project aims to raise £2 million to help conservation work and to raise awareness of the threat of extinction to Asian elephants. The situation is serious and has reached a critical point in recent years. There are three subspecies of Asian elephant; the Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan, of which all are classed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s report, it was estimated in 2003 that only 41,000-52,000 elephants roam wild in the tropical forests of Asia. Human settlement, increasing infrastructure, illegal poaching for ivory, and aggressive agricultural activity are the biggest threats to this mysterious species. With the loss of their habitat, they lose their traditional migratory routes and the source of food as well. Therefore, conflicts between the animals and villagers are frequent, and many times is the death of both humans and elephants.
The good news is that the process leading the Asian elephants towards extinction can be slowly but surely turned back. The Elephant Family firmly believes that with our support the future of the Asian elephants can be secured. But this time too, as always when a problem must be solved, urgent collaboration is necessary. Governments, communities and international organizations must work together in order to save the habitat of these giant animals.
It is really nice to see smiling people all around the city when they meet the little elephants, kids riding on them, serious adults hugging them, but we should not forget about the real cause of the project. If they made us smile, we should reciprocate it, let’s say, with a little help for the Elephant Family. One easy way to show your support is by signing a petition on their website. Moreover, you can even be an elephant minder or repair volunteer for the sculptures on the streets. It sounds fun to me!
For more information about the Elephant Parade in London, visit www.elephantparadelondon.org. The art elephant statues can be seen at various locations throughout London until the 20th June. From the 21st-30th June, they will be all together at Westfield Shopping Centre, and on the 25th, 26th, and 28th June they will be a the Royal Chelsea Hospital.