Introducing CoExistence

Last Friday saw the launch of Elephant Family’s epic new campaign CoExistence, with our very own joint Royal Patrons Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall speaking to ITV News about the campaign, and the installation of their own herd of elephants at Highgrove.

About the campaign

Conceptualised by Elephant Family in partnership with Indian based non-profit The Real Elephant CollectiveCoExistence is an epic environmental art campaign which will see 125 life-size elephant sculptures migrate through London’s Royal Parks and Berkeley Square in the summer of 2021. The exhibition will mark the occasion of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) scheduled for May 2021, which plans to negotiate a new global framework to safeguard all life on Earth.  

The funds raised from the sales of these elephant sculptures will support innovative solutions to the growing conflict between humans and wildlife who are pitched against each other in a deadly battle for food and space. In India, this is a conflict that on average ends in the death of one elephant and one person, every day. 

Flocks of endangered or biologically extinct native UK birds such as storks, cranes, white tailed eagles, corncrakes and great bustards, created by UK artists will also land on the herd to highlight rewilding efforts closer to home. In partnership with the farming community of Norfolk and Suffolk, the funds raised from the birds will go into WildEast an initiative which was recently celebrated on BBC One’s “Countryfile”. 

The issue

As human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and animals are fighting a deadly battle for food and space. The Asian elephant is the poster child for a new generation of homeless animals attempting to live in human dominated landscapes.  

Despite being the most densely populated continent on Earth, with 455 humans per sq kilometer, India’s landscapes support a vast array of biodiversity including majestic wildlife such as tigers, elephants, leopards and innumerable species of birds and reptiles. Contrarily, and despite having a lower population density (255 humans per sq kilometer) the UK has lost all of our charismatic megafauna – 60% of its remaining wildlife in 50 years – and has failed to meet 17 of its 20 targets to protect biodiversity for 2020.  

Destroying natural habitats triggers mass biodiversity loss and creates deadly zoonotic diseases, and as humans continue to encroach on wild spaces, the likelihood of another global pandemic is high. 

To protect global biodiversity and build a future without conflict and global pandemics, we must take heed of India’s innovative efforts to coexist with species far more challenging than beavers and badgers.  

About the Sculptures  

These elephants are ambassadors for the entire animal kingdom, and bring with them a plea for help to protect their home, so that they can live peacefully alongside their human neighbours. These sculptures have been crafted over the past 5 years by a team of conservationists, tribals and artists who live alongside the herd in the jungles of Southern India, and have pioneered innovative solutions that can be applied globally to help humans and animals to live in CoExistence with each other. 

Working under the creative direction of Elephant Family’s Ruth Ganesh and The Real Elephant Collective’s Shubhra Nayar, a collective of artists in the jungles of Tamil Nadu, Southern India, have spent the past four years recreating the real-life elephants they live alongside, in intricately detailed sculptural form. The sculptures are composed of Lantana camara, an invasive weed first introduced by British tea planters in the 1800s, which is choking the forests of Asia and destroying natural habitats. By crafting these elephants from Lantana camara, CoExistence is not only helping to improve habitats and biodiversity, but is also providing livelihoods for local communities.  

The sale of these sculptures will fund innovative solutions to human-wildlife conflict, so if you would like to purchase an elephant or two, please do contact info@elephant-family.org.

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Instagram: @coexistence.story

Twitter: @CoExistence_UK

Facebook: @The.Coexistence.Story