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Help The Hathi

Friday, March 09, 2018

A herd of elephants is being “paraded” around the city, but they’re not from the jungle. The 48hrs Team tells you all you need to know about the Elephant Parade

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Elephant society, in many ways, mirrors our own. They care fiercely for their young, they remember their dead and they live in communities much like we do. It’s easy to see why these creatures have always won us over — especially the little members of the herd who struggle to control their trunk and end up stealing our hearts.

And, to help these gentle giants is the Elephant Parade, here to raise awareness and funds for the protection of our elephants. The elephants being paraded are not live ones, but elephant statues adorned with art — motifs, colours and patterns designed by big names in the industry. Walk around the display taking pictures, petting the decorated elephants — or if you fall in love with one, you could even bid for them at an auction.

One common cause, a love for elephants and the passion to protect the species from endangerment saw two organisations join hands. The Elephant Parade and the Elephant Family collaborate to organise an art exhibition that will feature the elegant giants in all its glory across the streets of India. In honour of the artistic elephants that are taking over our city for the next week, we look at the organisations that are behind the movement and what they aim to achieve.

Elephant Parade
This is a social enterprise that started with an injured baby elephant called Mosha. Father-son duo Marc and Mike Spits were inspired to work towards the conservation of the elephant after encountering Mosha in Thailand, who had lost her leg after stepping on a landmine. With the will to provide the elephants with a sustainable future, they set up the organisation and the first Elephant Parade was held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, back in 2007.

Essentially an art exhibition that takes to the streets, the parade features decorated elephant statues. International and local artists take the initiative to create life-size, baby elephant statues, which are exhibited in the city where the parade is being held. To raise awareness and funds, handcrafted replicas and a range of elephant statues are sold, from which 20% of Elephant Parade’s net profits are donated to elephant welfare and conservation projects.

Elephant Family
A dynamic NGO that hails from the United Kingdom, their sole aim is to protect the species from extinction. Dedicated to protecting the Asian elephants and their habitats, they look to establish real world solutions and raise funds to protect the animal and the caretakers dedicated to them. Working with various organisations and partnering with conservation experts, they work to establish elephant corridors and work to change government policies that support the protection of elephants.  One of their chief conservation efforts to raise awareness and funds has been their partnership with the Elephant Parade. Following a successful parade in London in 2010, the two organisations came together once again to set up shop in three cities in our country — Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai. The Elephant Family has partnered with the Wildlife Trust of Inida, who remains their main conservation partner in the country, as well as the Good Earth store, which promotes sustainable luxury.

Elephants are known to be our country’s pride, especially with the mythological connotation attached to Lord Ganesha. This makes elephants sacred for most of the Indian populous thus giving us more reason to protect these beautiful creatures. These are a few simple steps which you can undertake that will help to save these enormous and highly intelligent creatures.

  • Refrain from buying ivory Or, for that matter, any other products that may be causing harm to the elephant or its habitat. Ivory has traditionally been used to make antique jewellery, billiard balls, pool cues, dominos, fans and piano keys. While these are aesthetically pleasing, the ivory used for these is acquired by killing elephants. Other than ivory, some coffee and timber plantations destroy elephant habitats. So, when buying these products ensure that they are certified to not have harmed elephants or their habitats.
  • Volunteer and spread awareness Many organisations have taken up the cause to protect elephants and their habitats from poachers. These organisations are known to help distressed and ailing elephants back to health and conserve their environment. You can get in touch with these organisations such as Volunteer With Elephants India or Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary, and involve yourself in their volunteer programmes. You can also do your part by spreading awareness using social media and taking part in various awareness campaigns.  
  • Adopt an elephant and donate The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has come up with a new scheme for the prevention and conservation of elephants in Asia and Africa wherein you can adopt an elephant for a sum ranging from Rs 270 to Rs 1,350, as a monthly fee. This fee will help the organisation protect an elephant and their habitat giving them the much needed care and protection. Many other preventive organisations are looking for help to fund their endeavours and now you can do so by making regular donations. You can also leave a legacy by including a donation in your will for once you have passed on.

The herd of 101 elephants is on the move and this has already taken the city by storm. With an inauguration taking place on 27th February at the Gateway of India, the elephants took over a few popular South Mumbai areas such as the Priyardarshini Park, Siddhivinayak Mandir and the Worli Sea Face. And now, the grand elephant parade is ready to take over the suburbs of the city. So, if you spot them in your favourite hangout, click a picture or two with them, hug them and do your little bit to spread the word about these conservation efforts.

  • Up to March 11 Be ready to witness bright and colourful elephants adorning your favourite hangout spots such as the Phoenix Marketcity in Kurla, R City Mall in Ghatkopar and the Grand Hyaat Mumbai. So, whether you are shopping at the malls or dining over with your loved ones, make sure your eyes are always on the lookout for the happy trunks as you raise awareness for the endangered Asian elephants.
  • March 14 to 18 After making their way to the by-lanes of Bandra at Carter Road, Amphitheatre, Bandra Fort, Taj Lands End and The Bombay Art Society, the parade will be seen rocking the floor at the suburbs popular malls such as the Infinity Mall in Andheri and Malad and Oberoi Mall in Goregaon. If you’re lucky, you may spot one painted by your favourite celebrity, just like the one painted by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who along with his four-year-old son, Abram Khan, painted a beautiful elephant that was on display at the Worli Sea Face.

Leading Indian artists, fashion designers, design institutes, tribal painters and celebrities have contributed to the Elephant Parade by transforming 101 elephant sculptures into unique masterpieces. We look at a few designers and their elephants that are currently up for auction.

The Sundarbans by Sabyasachi Mukherjee

The renowned fashion designer has come forth with a literary twist to the Sundarbans Forest — translated to beautiful forest, through this design and inception. Entranced by the works of Enid Blyton, the designer has incorporated the magical visuals of the Sundarbans on the elephant which display his surrealistic imagination. He says that even though he is from the land of the magical Sundarbans, he hasn’t had a chance to visit the forest, which is why he decided upon a forest theme for the elephant. He aims to re-create a surreal Sunderbans which is colourful, magical, exotic and far removed from reality.    
Materials used: Acrylic, oil paints and varnish

Krishna by Pranab Das

An elephant with a socio-cultural background that was inspired by the devotional song “Aahe Nila Saila”, Pranab Das has through his artwork depicted the mythological tale of an elephant being rescued by Lord Vishnu and its significance with that of the God.
Material used: Acrylic paint and varnish

Airavat by Tarun Tahiliani

A beautiful contrast of black and gold that signifies creation and connectivity with all forms of life as well as the destruction, followed by the resurgence of life, is the inspiration behind the designers artwork. He, in the way of representing the plight of the Asian elephant, has tried to gain support for the endangered species.
Materials used: Acrylic paint, metal and varnish

Sky by Gaurav Gupta

(Images courtesy:

With a vintage appeal, the designer has made use of innumerable pearls to depict a fantastical pattern through enamelled castles and birds. It is inspired by the fantasy forest and the fluid shapes of nature. The designer has tried to highlight the magnificence of the elephant and the need for it to free from human torture.
Materials used: Acrylic paint and plastic beads


The elephant sculptures are being auctioned off to raise funds to help protect 101 elephant corridors in India. You can place your bids on up to March 22.


The aim of the parade is fairly straightforward. It’s all for and about the elephants, the animal that the organisations have set out to protect. They have exhibited 101 elephants in each city, which showcases the nation’s creative artists and celebrate the animal. Beyond this, they support the 101 corridors campaign, which calls to the corporate India and the government to raise 20 million pounds to establish 101 elephant corridors in the country for the safe passage of the animal.

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