Asian Elephant Alliance launched to reverse crisis facing elephants in India

A new alliance of conservation organisations has been launched to stem the crisis facing the world’s remaining Asian elephants – thought to number only 35,000 – 45,000.

Habitat loss, along with ivory poaching, has devastated the population of wild Asian elephants, a distinct species from their African cousins. Survival for these few remaining elephants requires urgent action.

A new coalition – the Asian Elephant Alliance – has been formed to tackle the crisis. The member organisations are Elephant Family, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), IUCN Netherlands, Wildlife Trust of India and World Land Trust.

The alliance was officially launched in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at an event at Lancaster House hosted by Elephant Family last night.  The Royal Rickshaw Reception raised more than £700,000 by auctioning off 20 designer-decorated auto-rickshaws.

The Asian Elephant Alliance members signed an official declaration stating that the Asian elephant is an endangered species that requires immediate conservation assistance from governmental, non-governmental and corporate bodies for its survival.

The key aim of the alliance is to build 100 habitat corridors across India over the next 10 years, linking up fragmented areas of elephant home ranges and allowing safe passage for India’s elephants. Around half of the world’s wild Asian elephant population is found in India.

IFAW and its partner organisation, Wildlife Trust of India, have identified 88 migration corridors in India to help elephants migrate in search of food and water.

One such corridor connects the elephant population of Kaziranga National Park and South Karbi Anglong Wildlife Sanctuary, an area that supports nearly 2,000 elephants. IFAW worked with the local community and bought land. In addition IFAW is providing clean drinking water after installing two hand pumps, and has improved the local primary school with repairs, furniture and teaching equipment.

The Asian Elephant Alliance aims to raise £20 million to fund the corridors.

The President and CEO of IFAW, Azzedine Downes, was in attendance to sign the declaration. He said: “Asian elephants are in crisis. We cannot sit back and allow our grandchildren to grow up in a world devoid of Asian elephants. Research has shown that linking together fragmented areas of habitat so that elephants can reach their food and water can have a really positive impact. IFAW is proud to be a part of this new alliance to put the conservation of Asian elephants centre-stage.”