Many of you will have seen the 100+ lantana life-sized elephant sculptures that took over the Royal Parks in London over the summer as part of our CoExistence art campaign and exhibition. This campaign raised awareness of the need for humans and wildlife to exist side by side, and to live and thrive in harmony. The elephant sculptures were modelled on real wild elephants from the Nilgiri Hills in Southern India where they were created by the Adivasi communities who live alongside them. The CoExistence campaign has raised critical funds for our conservation work and will help us to deliver our ambitious conservation strategy.
So, we wanted to tell you a little more about our ambitious plans and why this work is so important…
India is one of the 17 mega biodiverse countries in the world, hosting four of the 36 biodiversity hotspots. The country is home to a long list of important and endangered wildlife species, including over 50% of the world’s free ranging Asian elephants and globally significant populations of tigers. It is also an area of the world where humans and wildlife live together in the greatest densities. It has been designated a key landscape for conservation by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is a place where efforts to promote human-wildlife coexistence have the potential for transformative impact.
As such, our approach aims to achieve four key changes to benefit both communities and wildlife:
- Less human-wildlife conflict, and more coexistence
- More Protected Areas and better connectivity across key landscapes
- Healthier populations of keystone species, such as the Asian elephant and tiger
- Better livelihoods for indigenous populations and local communities
Partnership and collaboration are at the heart of the British Asian Trust’s approach across all our programmes, as we believe that it is only by working together that we can achieve sustainable change at scale. Given the interconnectivities outlined above, working collaboratively is even more important within the context of conservation and the protection of biodiverse landscapes. Our approach, therefore, centres strongly around promoting human-wildlife coexistence across key stakeholder groups through:
- Local community engagement and education to raise awareness around conservation and human-wildlife coexistence
- Landscape level conservation interventions in target geographies, including improved management and expansion of Protected Areas, working with leading indigenous conservationists and scientists
- Policy engagement and government advocacy for improved policies and enforcement for conservation outcomes
This is an evolving strategy, and we are committed to learning through our partners and our work and ensuring that our approach is relevant and impactful. We are excited about growing our work and making change in this globally critical sector.