London: A pair of life-size floral elephants was unveiled in the heart of London to mark the launch a new initiative to save the Indian elephant.
Elephant Family, a charity founded by travel writer and conservationist Mark Shand, has joined hands with another London charity Habitat for Humanity for the Animal Ark programme to help raise funds to protect endangered Indian elephants in their natural habitat.
"The two beautiful floral elephants on Sloane Street are a precursor of a huge Animal Ark we are building next year in one of the parks in London. We`ll get 100 pairs of different animals together which will each then be auctioned to raise funds to save the Asian elephant," explained Shand, whose charity has been working towards clearing up corridors in India for man and elephant to live in harmony together.
Over the course of 2013 and 2014, Elephant Family and Habitat for Humanity are uniting to resettle communities out of danger zones whilst also restoring the migratory routes used for millions of years by the Asian elephant.
"We have cleared the Nilgiri corridor and are now moving to a smaller corridor in Assam. In India, a person kills an elephant and vice versa every single day now as the traditional migratory routes are blocked leading to conflict.
"Our project with Habitat for Humanity involves building homes for people to clear these corridors. It is a win-win situation for everybody," added Shand, the brother of Prince Charles` wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall.
The funds raised from Animal Ark will power the partnership between Elephant Family and Habitat for Humanity, created by London-based Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist Priya Vandrevala.
"We have a foundation that does work in mental health (The Vandrevala Foundation) and runs a 24/7 helpline in India. It has served nearly 40,000 people in Mumbai and Delhi and there are plans to expand it to Chennai and Bangalore," Vandrevala, founder and chairman of the Hirco Group, one of India`s largest developers of premium residential real estate said.
"This launch coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week and as patrons of the Elephant Family we felt it is a great opportunity to help raise awareness around all these very important issues," she said.
The launch of the Animal Ark initiative at the Rib Room on Sloane Street last week also coincided with 100 years of the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London.
The ark of life-size animals will eventually be submitted as a garden at the famous flower show in 2014 with the aim of winning the coveted `Best in Show` prize.
"To see these life-size elephants decked out with flowers by (florists) Wild At Heart on an iconic fashion street of London like Sloane Street is a first," said Viscount Chelsea, chair of Cadogan Estates Limited, one of the sponsors of the initiative.