About Elephant Family
Inspired by his travels through India with an Asian elephant called Tara, Mark Shand founded the charity Elephant Family in 2002 to help protect one of the world’s largest and most intelligent animals and its habitat. Now under the Patronage of TRH’s The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Elephant Family is the leading UK charity dedicated to saving Asian elephants from extinction in the wild.
In the last 100 years 90% of the Asian elephant population has been lost and, with Asia’s human population and economy booming, the elephant’s forest habitat continues to be squeezed. Elephant Family is working to reconnect the fragmented forests, build new homes for people living in danger zones and to stop the illegal and rampant trade in wild Asian elephants and their parts. Since our inception, we have funded over 160 conservation projects, creating a safer life for hundreds of rural families and helping over 20% of Asia’s endangered elephants.
Mitigating human-elephant conflict is at the heart of our work; in 2010, we introduced new techniques to areas in South India, such as mobile phone alerts, to encourage a healthy distance between people and elephants. In Assam, India, we collaborated with local communities to voluntarily relocate villagers living in a human-wildlife conflict zone to improved homes in a safe region and with better access to education, clean water and other services. In Thailand we are supporting innovative research into elephant behaviour to understand what leads certain animals to become problematic for local communities, and we are focussing on the prevention of wildlife crime and the burgeoning trade in elephant parts and skin along the China / Myanmar border.
In addition to powering conservation projects, Elephant Family raises awareness and funds through creative conservation campaigns. This approach has seen us work with 1,000 artists, fashion houses, jewellers and architects and executive eight large-scale public art exhibitions. From racing rickshaws to life-size painted elephant sculptures and Mark Shand’s ‘cabinet of curiosities’ Elephant Family shines a multi-coloured spotlight on the plight of Asia’s elephants.
The Asian elephant is a keystone species. By saving them, we help many other endangered animals that share their forest homes including tigers, orangutans, hornbills and rhinos. The Asian elephant holds a special place in the animal kingdom: it is at the centre of a web of life that plays a vital role in maintaining the balance of the landscape around it. If the elephant goes, entire ecosystems will be lost with it.
To find out more about our work or to donate see www.elephant-family.org