In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, the elephants are racing towards extinction at an alarming rate.
There are only 400,000 African elephants and 40,000 Asian elephants remaining across the entire planet.
It is estimated that an African elephant is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes.
In Asia, Asian elephants are ensnared deeply in the tourist trade and kept by mahouts who often abuse the elephants in order to get them to do their bidding.
In India, Asian elephants fight for space amidst soaring human populations and are often trapped in pockets, unable to follow their migratory paths.
These beautiful creatures are diminishing faster than you would believe and the reality that our grandchildren may never see an elephant in their lifetime is a shockingly possibility.
Thankfully, there are many people and organisations out there going to incredible lengths to save these magnificent creatures. I was blessed to get an opportunity to be involved in one such organization during a recent vacation.
Possibly the last thing I would ever have imagined doing in London is riding around the busy streets of the city in a rickshaw. And yet this is exactly what I did a few weeks ago thanks to a timely invitation from a friend.
A charity called Elephant Family is dedicated to providing safe migratory passages to elephants in India who are losing regular battles against trains, vehicles and villages. As a charity backed by Prince Charles their influence packs a strong punch and they are currently the largest charity organization in the UK dedicated to elephant conservation.
One of their projects, called “Travels To My Elephant,” saw 20 Indian rickshaws converted into astonishing works of art. Each rickshaw was designed by a different artist, milliner or fashion house from around the world and was auctioned off at a charity ball for varying sums of money.
This London Black Cab inspired rickshaw sold for £100,000.
In order to spread public awareness and continue to raise funds, these rickshaws are currently being driven around the streets of the city by brave volunteers.
I’ve been apprenticing with elephant journal for the summer which has only deepened my love for all things elephant related, so for me it was a serendipitous event to be able to join one of these processions (or parades in elephant terms) as a passenger.
We hit the main sights of London in one of the hotted-up rickshaws, beeping at tourists, stalling at lights and getting lost in the maze of streets.
If you’ve never been to London, picture riding in a tiny three-wheeled vehicle around narrow, winding streets and competing for space with red double-decker buses and angry black cabs.
It was both terrifying and exhilarating!
These precious animals need our help and they need it fast. The reality is the world needs to rally together to see their dire situation change. If we continue to do nothing, elephants will simply cease to exist.
This Wednesday, the 12th of August is World Elephant Day. You can help spread awareness by getting involved at their site here. Sign a petition, make a pledge to support a world that protects elephants and check out all the other ways you can make a difference to this issue.
Author: Sarah Kolkka
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own Images