For as long as I can remember, I have loved elephants.
My association with them had early beginnings – I recently found out over a cup of tea with my mother, that when I was a baby in my native Sri Lanka, I was taken to a nearby herd and passed under the belly of an elephant (!) as part of a ritualistic blessing.
A sweet story, but sadly symptomatic of the plight of the Asian elephant. We were not in the lush jungles of Sri Lanka where this happened – we were in Kandy, a major city in the island nation. Those elephants were likely roadside entertainment or on their way to join a cultural procession.
As I grew and travelled throughout Asia, I noticed that all my interactions with these supposedly native species were with captive elephants. Where had all the elephants gone?
For the answer to this question, head to Hong Kong Family Traveller magazine’s Summer 2019 issue. I have contributed an article on responsible (specifically pachyderm-related) tourism on pages 58-61.
Spoiler alert – us bipeds are (again) the instigators of the troubling fate of the Asian elephant, and so it stands to reason we must come up with the solution.
I have had the enormous pleasure of speaking with wildlife conservationist groups in Asia and beyond in the last six months and learning about their important work, but one in particular was the natural choice as beneficiary for my fundraising this year.
Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society ‘s work has spanned over two decades working with rural communities at a grassroots level to mitigate human/elephant conflict. Their success with elephants has lead to other inspiring wildlife projects which conserve and protect Sri Lanka’s rich natural world. The first fundraising effort kicked off at the end of March, raising US$1,500 / HK$12,000. The next part of this effort kicks off NOW – in the hopes of more than doubling this contribution.
I am selling elephant figurines designed by my husband and brought to life at a limited run of 200 to support Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society. These figurines are symbolic of how we think elephants should be able to live and be – safe, content and WILD!
Your contribution is needed now more than ever as crucial programmes supporting the elephants are at risk due to volunteers no longer visiting SLWC. Travel warnings remain in place from several countries around the world in the aftermath of the Easter weekend terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka which has directly impacted their funding.
If you would like one, and you’re based in Hong Kong, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
They cost HK$200 each with all proceeds given to SLCWS. I am currently taking orders for those based in Hong Kong only with a view to expand internationally as needed. If you’re keen to jump the queue on this, send me an email and we’ll see what we can do.
To learn more about the challenges the Asian elephant face, I encourage you to watch the excellent documentary ‘Love & Bananas‘ featuring the talented Ashley Bell and renowned elephant conservationist, Lek Chailert. Both of them pictured below along with other members of Save Elephant Foundation, myself and Paul Haswell from Pop Fugitives, who kindly had us all on RTHK Radio 3’s Sunday Escape in April.
Finally, as we head into the summer holidays please remember this easy rule – if you’re asking an elephant to do anything you are likely asking for too much. Let’s help them stay wild.