Sixty migratory elephants move between Piccadilly and Buckingham Palace in London’s Green Park in one of nine herds roam all over town. The lumbering creatures are part of an ongoing collaboration between two nonprofit organizations, coexistence and Elephant familywho explores how imaginative public art projects can help people better coexist with animals and the larger ecosystem.
As the name suggests, the goal of CoExistence is to identify mutually beneficial ways of life, as the balance between world population and wilderness has shifted significantly in the last century: in 1937, 66 percent of the global environment with 2.3 billion people was on the earth intact. Today those numbers have changed dramatically, with a world population of 7.8 billion and only 35 percent of the wilderness left.
The organization’s recent efforts are bringing the giant animals to urban spaces across London that are normally closed to wildlife. The flocks can be spotted in St. James’s Park, Berkeley Square, and even the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s homes in Highgrove. In addition to raising awareness of environmental crises, the installations collect donations to support grassroots organizations across India that promote indigenous culture and build technologies and infrastructures that enable symbiotic life between humans and animals.
CoExistence plans to install around 500 animals around the world over the next few years, and with the help of The real elephant collective, each nation receives a herd specially developed for the location. The collective works with indigenous communities from the Tamil Nadu jungles of southern India who live alongside the real animals to create the sculptural iterations, which are up to 4.5 meters high and weigh nearly 800 pounds. Each creature is made up of long strips of lantana camara, an invasive weed that spreads through thick thickets and disrupts the environment –the video The process is documented below – and by removing the plant, the artists are helping to restore the natural ecosystem.
37 critically endangered and extinct birds will join the herd in Green Park on July 6th. Seven artists created the herd out of steel, clay and bronze, including a curlew by ten feet tall Simon gudgeon that’s as big as some of the elephants. The bird additives are the product of a collaboration with WildEast, a group focused on restoring biodiversity in the UK and finding new ways of sustainable farming, and is being sold to raise money for conservation efforts.
To support CoExistence’s efforts, you can to adopt, donate, or Commission one of the elephants and there are smaller goods and prints in his business. Follow the movements of the herds on the Instagram of the non-profit organization, and look at more the elephant family Account.
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