There’s an Elephant Parade in Mumbai!

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“Hup-two-three-four, keep-it-up-two-three-four… !” Does that sound familiar from The Jungle Book?! That was Colonel Hathi marching his elephant patrol through the jungle. Well, right now, Mumbai has its very own elephant parade with 101 elephants ready to march forth.

Why are elephants parading through Mumbai? This is part of a worldwide awareness campaign to save the Asian elephant, which is now an endangered animal.

How many Asian elephants were there in the world 100 years ago?

Correct! Wrong!

There were 100,000 wild Asian elephants in the world 100 years ago.

How many Asian elephants are there in the world now?

Correct! Wrong!

Only 35,000 - 40,000 Asian elephants exist in the world right now.

The elephant parade hosts 101 life-size baby elephant statues decorated with vibrant multi-colour paintings, brass work, jade stones and many other styles.

The Elephant Parade campaign was started in 2006 by a man called Marc Spitz and his son Mike who felt for these elephants after Marc visited Thailand, Asia. Since then, elephant parades have taken place in London, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai, Sao Paulo, Copenhagen, Milan and many other cities. The elephants are displayed and auctioned to the highest bidder. The money raised goes to an organisation called Elephant Family that works to save elephant corridors and provide medical facilities to injured elephants.

Why is the elephant endangered? A big reason is the depletion of their natural habitat. Humans are developing more and more land, and the areas through which elephants move are disappearing. We are also using a lot of paper products that come from trees, contributing to deforestation. This, and other factors like poaching elephants for the precious ivory in their tusks have contributed to the rapid fall in the number of elephants.

Photo Credit: Sanctuary Wildlife Awards 2017, winner: Hell is Here

How can we help save the elephant? By saving the forest! Reduce, recycle and reuse. Less paper used means fewer trees need to be cut leaving more habitat for elephants and other animals.

Back to the Mumbai Parade – Some of those participating in designing the Mumbai Parade elephants are famous designers and celebrities such as Masaba Gupta, Christian Louboutin, Amitabh Bachchan, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, and design institutes and tribal artists. The parade was inaugurated this past weekend at the Gateway of India in Mumbai after a preview in Jaipur and New Delhi. In the next few weeks, the elephants will be displayed across Mumbai. So if you are around, keep an eye out!

Fun Fact: The African elephant is larger than the Asian elephant. Asian elephants have smaller, rounder ears while the African elephant has large ears somewhat the shape of the African continent – how cool is that!

Written by: Purnima Thacker

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