2020: The Year in Review

This year has been nothing if not memorable. The elephants, sloth bears, tigers, leopards and hornbills have been a little quieter than usual on account of our UK office and our international conservation teams battening down the hatches to weather the storm of 2020.

But we have held tight, and are still charging at the horizon for Asia’s wildlife. As the year draws to a close, we wanted to share news of how the animals and our plans have progressed, and to let you know of a special opportunity we have to end the year on a high.

Twelve months of Elephant Family & the British Asian Trust  

As you know, we formally merged with another Royal charity, the British Asian Trust, at the start of this year. We are delighted to report that the merger is going brilliantly well and we are now developing a really ambitious conservation strategy.

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are extremely pleased with these developments as it enables us to keep all the great things about Elephant Family, whilst being able to develop much more impactful conservation programmes.

News from the field  

This year has been a challending one for all of our conservation partners, each of whom has had to adapt to new regulations and policies put in place to protect the health and wellbeing of their team members throughout the pandemic. But, things have moved onwards and our news and views blog has been pretty packed with updates throughout the year.

Significant reverse migration from large cities to rural areas across Asia has seen new pressures placed on natural habitats and wild spaces. There has been a rise in poaching and devastating floods forced wild animals into closer proximity with human communities. We have shared with you the danger of fake news and how the emergence of new species has been cause for concern as well as excitement.

But it certainly hasn’t all been doom and gloom, as there have been some major strides taken which we are incredibly pleased about.

Positive progress    

Whilst this year has seen fundraising events cancelled and some programme work paused, our project partners on the ground have nonetheless been able to make great strides towards achieving our goals for a future in peaceful coexistence with wildlife.

In September our work with the Wildlife Trust of India to create a Wildlife Corridor in Kerala, Southern India, received endorsement from the regional government who have pledged to accelerate its expansion. By securing a further four corridors, this expansion will help to reconnect forest fragments, and provide food and vital safe passage of animals between habitats.

Additionally, we were thrilled to announce back in July that our conservation work in Myanmar has been awarded a grant by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative, allowing us to continue our work there. This funding recognises the success of our efforts to safeguard the livelihoods of farmers, by giving them the education and skills required to live alongside their huge, wild neighbours without being killed.

We also recently learned that work of our conservation partner Sanjay Gubbi and the Nature Conservation Foundation has resulted in the government-approved expansion of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary by over 13,000 acres. Their incredible efforts will both protect the wildlife within the sanctuary, and help improve funding to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the region.

Finally, we are delighted to share that thanks to Elephant Family’s funding of workshops held by the Asian Elephant Specialist Group, the latest edition of the IUCN Red List has included Bornean pygmy elephants as a distinct sub-species of Asian elephant. This new status will help to refine conservation efforts to protect Bornean elephants and their habitat.  

CoExistence and our Christmas Appeal 

Like most charities, we are not immune to the financial impact of the pandemic, particularly as a significant proportion of our income derives from events which have been unable to take place due to government measures.  However, we will not be deterred. 

CoExistence will be going ahead in the Summer of 2021. This high-profile campaign will see 100+ life-sized elephants transform London’s Royal Parks into an Asian jungle and will mark the launch of our new ambitious conservation strategy focusing on resolving the global issue of human-wildlife conflict.  

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, have been leading the charge for this campaign by installing a herd at Highgrove, which garnered the attention of both national and international press including ITV News coverage, and features in Hello! Magazine and The Daily Mail. We would like to thank Their Royal Highnesses for their incredible support of both CoExistence and the wider work of Elephant Family.

A large number of our CoExistence sculptures have already been purchased or temporarily adopted by supporters up and down the country, but they are looking for their ‘forever homes’, so if you are interested in purchasing a sculpture, do get in touch. 

There is also, a more immediate opportunity for you to make a difference.  

As you may already be aware, a dear supporter of Elephant Family has offered to match all donations we receive during December up to the value of £20,000, meaning that if you are in a position to make a donation, it will be doubled and have twice the impact.  

After such a challenging year for our fundraising, our Christmas Appeal gives us a chance to finish the year on a high and to put us on a good footing for everything we have planned for 2021.  

We cannot convey more strongly to you the difference that any support you will make as we embark on the next chapter of this journey together. 

Looking ahead to 2021

Along with the rest of the world, we are hugely looking forward to a new start and the hope and optimism that a New Year brings with it. As we move forward as part of the British Asian Trust, we are setting ambitious targets that will push the organisation from strength to strength.

Our new conservation strategy will be coming into play, and as we forge new partnerships we are very much looking forward to bringing you further exciting updates from our work to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

CoExistence will bring an injection of creativity and light, and we are so excited to be welcoming you all to be a part of the story.

This year has been tough, but we have got through it and your support has been invaluable to us.

From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for your kindness and your generosity, and send the warmest of Christmas wishes and hope for a fantastic 2021.

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