The London herd is part of a traveling project that obeys the name of CoExistence and that travels the world to raise funds for the protection of the effephants and their habitats

The herd of elephants from the CoExistence project

The herd of elephants was first sighted at the gates of the Buckingham Palace. From there they dispersed through the “mall” of London, into the northwest of the city, then down to the banks of the Tmesis in Chelsea and finally regrouped in St. James and Green Park. There we saw them for the last time, astonishing young and old alike: more than a hundred astonishingly real pachyderms, sculpted from dried branches of lantana, an invasive plant that grows in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, reused by the “adivasi” communities to make furniture, ornaments and sculptures like these that we have before our eyes.

The London herd is part of a traveling project that obeys the name of CoExistence and that travels the world to raise funds for the protection of effephants and their habitats. The obvious message is the need for the human species to give space to wildlife, propagating examples of “coexistence” such as that of southern India, where elephants, tigers and leopards subsist in some of the most densely populated areas of the world. planet.

“Saving elephants is really saving ourselves,” he warns. Ruth Ganesh, in front of the Elephant Family Trust, the organization created in 2003 by Mark Shand, brother of Camila from Cornwall. His legacy lives on in more than 150 projects to regenerate forests, restore migratory routes and prevent illegal trafficking of species in India, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Borneo and Sumatra. “What we’re seeing is something Mark and I dreamed of for many years,” Ganesh says. “He wanted to evoke in an artistic installation the sense of wonder and wonder that one feels before a real elephant. He thought that by transmitting that feeling, the world would support without hesitation the efforts for its conservation.”

Lantana elephants seem to actually have a life of their own. The “adivasi” artisans, accustomed to living with them in the space shared by the jungle and the tea coffee plantations, have been inspired by real animals and have given each piece its personality … And at the same time they have contributed to alleviate the ecological impact that the invasive shrub, native to South America and introduced in India in tea plantations in the 19th century, continues to have. Over several generations, the native communities of the Nilgiri Mountains have learned to take advantage of the torn branches of lantana and give them a new artistic life, this time becoming the second skin of elephants.

The largest of the herd can be “bought” or sponsored for about 34,000 euros, and the smallest for 7,000. Donations have been pouring in since the pack started its journey Londoner at the end of May. They will be here until the end of July, before continuing their “migration route” around the world.

“In the last 18 months, dozens of countries have lived under the threat of the pandemic and lockdowns,” recalls Ruth Ganesh. “These tragic circumstances have created something like the ‘great pause’ and have allowed threatened species to reclaim their own space. Elephants are here to tell us their inspiring story about how we can coexist with the other species that make this planet such a place. magic “.

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