This young man is so happy to be part of such a unique and diverse herd. As a male, he is used to travelling alone, but being alone has its downsides. He constantly has to look over his shoulder, always on the lookout for the poachers who lie in wait to take his tusks. He can’t understand why the people are so obsessed with them; they look gorgeous on him because it’s natural. But it just looks silly anywhere else!
These gentle giants are not just found in India as their name suggests, but many countries in mainland Asia including Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Laos, China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They are considered megaherbivores and need to consume huge amounts of food every day, a whopping 150 kg! They spend about 19 hours of their day dedicated to eating, wandering a huge area to find everything they need. This is great for the plants as well because the elephants distribute their seeds as they wander around. Their trunks have a special finger-like part which makes it very easy to grasp their intended food.
Indian elephants are constantly on the move, never staying anywhere for more than a few days. They travel in groups of females and their young, led by the oldest matriarch. They communicate with each other using low-frequency noises which can be heard far away. When they get hot, they flap their ears which helps them to release heat. They love water and can smell it up to 3 miles away. Once there they can take a long drink and have fun, diving and swimming. They have a natural buoyancy which gives their joints a nice break.
When a female is about to give birth, the other members of the herd crowd around to protect her. Her very large baby starts feeding on the mother’s milk and can stand after 2 hours. The entire herd helps to look after the calves so the baby is blessed with many doting ‘aunties’. They are weaned at 2-4 years and the females are ready to mate themselves when they are 10 years old.
One of the biggest threats to Indian elephants is habitat loss and fragmentation. Increasing human populations means that expansion is booming with illegal encroachment into protected areas becoming a real problem. This takes away food and shelter for the elephants and can also stop them from walking their ancient migratory routes and meeting other herds. This is also a problem when they are forced to look for alternative food sources and move into human crops. They have caused millions of dollars worth of damage which results in very angry farmers who will often kill them to stop it from happening again. Another big problem is the illegal ivory trade. The males, the only ones with tusks, are poached for their precious ivory, a market that is still increasing despite being banned worldwide. This leaves the sex ratio severely unbalanced with far more females than males making it harder to find a mate.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtag #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/