Elephant Parade London 2010

May 6, 2010

The Elephant Parade London 2010 – “a social enterprise” which, according to the website, aims “to raise support for the Asian elephant, which is threatened with extinction” (via) – seems to have taken off in fine style with a lot of media coverage about the more than “250 brightly painted life-size elephants located over central London this summer”.

Elephant Family is the registered charity behind Elephant Parade, which aims to help reduce the impact of habitat loss on endangered elephants throughout Asia. Apparently, “in the past 100 years the Asian elephant population has declined by 90%” (via)

Since our launch in 2002, we’ve been busy. We’ve invested £3 million in securing and restoring vital corridors of land. We’ve supported local communities to reduce incidents of human-elephant conflict and improve the welfare of captive elephants. And we’ve worked hard to highlight the plight of the Asian elephant back home too, with UK-wide education programmes and publicity. (via)

Wandering past the Royal Festival Hall yesterday evening, I came across these four and, thinking about the scale of the project, it’s hard not to be impressed and enthused in equal parts. (Click to embiggen)

Shaant Haathi (Artist: Arabella Sim)

Brambles (Artist: Diana Ralston)

Julia’s elephant (Artist: Joseph Paxton)

Deliverance (Artist: Loz Atkinson)

I don’t think there can be any doubt about the admirable aim of the campaign, but I do wonder if it’s enough on its own. Although it may help to stabilise the elephant population, there remains the question of what happens in the longer term: can anything be done to increase the numbers? Given that the main threat to these animals seems to be from the impact of humankind – habitat loss is said to be the most significant (although not the only) risk they face – and given that human population seems to be increasing almost exponentially, it’s difficult to see how the Asian elephant can avoid extinction.

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