FFI takes part in London’s Elephant Parade

London has been invaded by 250 fibreglass Asian elephants! The Elephant Parade seeks to raise awareness and funds for Asian elephant conservation by exhibiting colourful lifesize baby elephants around the city centre.

As a conservation charity with Asian elephant projects, FFI was keen to take part. The species is in serious trouble – it is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

The Elephant Parade, organised by the Elephant Family, is a great way for conservation messages to reach the wider public. All the elephants will be auctioned off on 30 June to raise much-needed revenue for conservation.

FFI’s elephant can be found in Green Park along with several other NGO-sponsored elephants. If you’re in the city from now until 30 June, why not go take a look? We’ll let you know when you can start bidding in the online auction for our elephant!

Why does our elephant have a polar bear on it?

Our elephant is called Nanook – the Inuit word for polar bear. Nanook’s design cleverly links concern for the conservation of Asian elephants to global concerns regarding climate change.

The polar bear desperately clings onto an iceberg. Though surprising at first glance, the destruction of Asia’s forests not only threatens the elephants but contributes towards climate change.

Deforestation causes one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the polar bear is a potent symbol of the impacts of climate change on the natural world, and by extension, our own.

So, by saving the Asian forests we save the elephant’s home and help to protect all the planet’s species and ecosystems, including humans.

Watch a video of Nanook’s creation.

Who painted the elephant?

Martin Aveling is Cambridge-based artist who specialises in drawing and painting wildlife. He has traveled extensively in Africa, where he developed his passion for the natural world, which was helped by his zoologist parents.

Read Martin’s blog posts on creating Nanook

FFI’s Asian elephant projects

Our projects in Cambodia and Sumatra are working to protect elephant habitat and reduce conflict between humans and elephants. The smaller habitat patches mean elephants are forced to look for food on farms, which threatens the livelihoods of local people.

In Cambodia, FFI has worked over the past decade to research elephant distribution, population status and has successfully mitigated conflicts to such an extent that there have been no killings of elephants due to human–elephant conflict since 2005. Current signs in the field suggest that the population is now increasing, with a number of footprints of new elephant calves recorded during 2009.

In Sumatra, FFI focuses on establishing Conservation Response Units (CRU). The CRUs use once neglected captive elephants and their mahouts to patrol and protect important wild elephant habitat.

Photo credits: Helen Pitman/ FFI