Prince Charles' unique fund-raiser drive for conservation of elephants in Assam


Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have launched an ambitious fund-raising drive for conservation of Asian elephants in India with a royal auction of auto-rickshaws in London. As many as 20 intricately designed rickshaws and a 10-foot model elephant named Tara were auctioned by Sotheby’s in the gardens of Lancaster House on an uncharacteristically sunny evening yesterday.

It has helped raise over 700,000 pounds as part of a 1-million-pound fundraising drive for the ‘Travels to My Elephant’ campaign aimed at creating safe corridors for wild elephants in Assam.

“This is an enormously important cause, particularly because of its human-animal dimension. The establishment of corridors has the ability to transform the lives of the local farmers. If we can just complete the Assam corridor, it would make a fantastic difference in that part of India,” said Prince Charles, joint president of the Elephant Family.

The campaign was launched earlier this year in memory of conservationist Mark Shand – founder of the Elephant Family charity and Camilla’s brother who died suddenly in 2014. Stand out lots at the celebrity auction included the ‘Tara Taxi’ tuk-tuk, bought by Evelyn de Rothschild for a fantastic 100,000 pounds and the exquisite ‘Calcutta 74’ created by Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee and bought by Olivia Harrison, widow of ex-Beatle George Harrison, for 55,000 pounds.

The owner of Selfridges, Hilary Weston, bought two rickshaws – ‘Camping Lou’ – by Annabel Elliot and Luke Irwin, and ‘Indian Summer’ by Rebecca Campbell and Jane Churchill for a total of 80,000 pounds. The Elephant Family has tied up with Quintessentially Foundation for the ‘Travels to My Elephant’ drive, which aims to raise around 1 million pounds to protect the Asian elephant from extinction with a “once-in-a-lifetime rickshaw race” by celebrities across Indian roads in November.

The auction was preceded by the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to raise around 20 million pounds to create 100 elephant corridors in India by 2025 as part of the Asian Elephant Alliance, comprising of five conservational NGOs including Wildlife Trust of India, Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare, IUCN Netherlands and World Land Trust.

The ‘Travels to My Elephant’ campaign will see a fleet of 30 rickshaws race 500 kms as part of a planned “epic Indian adventure” across Madhya Pradesh to the elephant Tara’s home at Kipling Camp. The event is inspired by Shand’s own rescue of Tara, which is recorded in his best-selling book ‘Travels on my Elephant’, according to PTI.

“Journeying through some of the country’s most colourful and awe-inspiring countryside, from the erotic sculptures at Khajuraho to the tiger reserves of Bandhavgarh National Park, teams of two from all corners of the globe will take on the unique challenge,” an Elephant Family statement said.

Image Credit : Shutterstock

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