London’s Marble Arch is now home to 21 life-size bronze elephants to highlight the plight of a species which could face extinction by 2040. Organisers say the herd is the largest bronze elephant sculpture of its kind in the world and it will remain in central London for the next year.
“Without action, Africa’s elephants could be extinct by 2040. These sculptures represent the elephants left behind by poachers and human-wildlife conflict, who will grow to become the elephants of tomorrow,” said the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which helped unveil the statues.
Also present at the unveiling was government minister Zac Goldsmith, the author and father of the UK prime minister, Stanley Johnson, and Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan.
The sculptures were designed by the artists Gillie and Marc Schattner.
“This is not the elephant in the room, this is the elephant in the heart of the greatest city on earth. This isn’t the elephant in the room it’s the elephant in Marble Arch,” said Mr Johnson.
“When he was eight years old, I took him to Kenya and we drove a Land Rover through the Masai Mara down into the Serengeti, up the other side…. And that was a mind-boggling experience,” Mr Johnson said.
He and Mr Goldsmith, an outspoken supporter of animal rights and Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the government was fighting to tackle poaching, the ivory trade and trophy hunting.
“I’d like to see a ban on British people going abroad and hunting,” Mr Johnson added.
“It seems to me like there is an awful lot of us and not very many of them (animals),” said director and activist Will Travers.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a Kenya-based organisation that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants, rhinos and other animals.