Back in November last year, teams of adventurers set off on a five-day, 500 kilometre race across India – in rickshaws. Now that the dust has settled, so to speak, we can look back at this once-in-a-lifetime experience and discover that the amazing 'Travels to my Elephant' campaign has exceeded its initial £1 million target and has raised a fantastic £1.2 million that will go towards vital conservation projects across Asia.
Even before the race flagged off, a charity auction was held in June as part of the campaign. Going under the hammer were 20 colourful rickshaws designed by leading names from the world of art, fashion and millinery that included Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrara, Philip Colbert and The Rodnik Band, Bompass & Parr, Nicky Haslam, Alex Echo and Mulberry.
The auction, hosted by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall and held at Sotheby’s, raised £750,000 for this great initiative. One rickshaw in particular, inspired by the iconic London black cab and designed by Benjamin Shine, sold for a staggering £100,000.
When it came to the 500km dash across India in November, entrants had a challenging journey before them, along potholed roads, busy backstreets and unpaved rural tracks. Beginning at the temples of Khajuraho, the route took them to Kipling Camp Reserve in Madhya Pradesh - the place where Tara, the Asian elephant who inspired the whole project, still lives. The route is a significant one as it is the same journey undertaken by Elephant Family founder Mark Shand as he travelled across India with Tara to find a safe place for her to find a home.
As well as providing the logistics for Travels to my Elephant, Cadogan Tate also entered two teams into the race itself. Unfortunately, none of our teams were successful in claiming the victory but the experience was an unforgettable experience for all participants and it was a privilege to be able to benefit such a worthwhile cause.
The Elephant Family charity now works to secure elephant corridors in Assam, North East Asia, by piecing together fragments of forest to allow the vital population of Asian elephants, like Tara, to roam freely and safely in their natural habitat. Facing the threat of extinction, Elephant Family is helping to ensure the future of these magnificent animals. Another key aspect of the charity’s work is resettling and improving the lives of subsistence farmers who are often in competition for the same resources as the elephants.
In the months since the close of the project, the money raised has saved 1700 endangered wild elephants in Assam alone, by piecing together islands of forest that will allow them to roam freely without encroaching on human lives. Proceeds from the campaign have also built two entire villages and relocated 200 subsistence farmers and their children, moving them safely out of the danger zone.
Most importantly, the awareness raised through this campaign has inspired five NGOs to join forces and pledge £20 million toward further elephant corridors across the whole of Asia.
We at Cadogan Tate would like to thank everyone who was involved in making this such a successful and enjoyable campaign. The money and awareness raised is helping to make a real difference to people in India, and is ensuring the continued survival of one of these beautiful and endangered animals.
If you would like to find out more about the campaign, race and the great work being done by Elephant Family, you can watch a short video here.
Cadogan Tate specialises in art transportation and fine art logistics, helping galleries, museums and collectors manage their collections.
Information correct at time of publication.