Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inaugurated the first edition of Elephant Parade India where 101 elephant sculptures by designers like LN Tallur, Princess Pea, Christian Louboutin, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Masaba Guptawere are on display at the Gateway of India in Mumbai.
The setting could not have been more ideal for bringing art and wildlife conservation together in one frame, with the iconic Gateway of India in the background and the elephant statues right in front of it.
Some of the biggest names in fashion designing came together for elephant conservation by designing the miniature elephants, which loosely represent the endangered Asian elephant.
The beautiful pieces of art will be on display across Mumbai till March 18 and an awareness campaign aims to draw attention to the plight of the endangered Asian elephant.
"It's been an incredible journey. It's taken us over a year to put this together but we are so excited that it's finally come to Mumbai and you'll have a lot people engaging with these pieces of art," Farah Siddiqui, curator of Elephant Parade India, told NDTV.
The designer elephants will be for sale to raise funds for their endangered cousins in the wild. According to some estimates, the Asian elephant population has fallen by 90 per cent in the last century and there is an urgent need to check this decline, but the funding of projects to do that is inadequate.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who is also an animal lover herself, has appealed to Mumbaikars to be generous and buy these sculptures, even if it is for public spaces and not private display.
"Over the years, I have found that all our activities for wildlife which need money have always been supported by artists, indirectly. They are generous and talented and they always go out of their way to give their bit towards any animal saving endeavour," she told NDTV.
The funds raised from the parade will help secure 101 elephant corridors across India and support projects to address human-elephant conflicts across the country and especially elephant hubs where they are under threat due to lack of corridors.
Member of Parliament from Mumbai Poonam Mahajan told NDTV, "Nature, environment and human beings must coexist together. Now that there is awareness it is time for action. This is the action we have planned and we will be showcasing this all across Mumbai."
The London edition of the Elephant Parade in 2010 became its biggest public art exhibition and raised over four million pounds for elephant conservation. The organisers hope Mumbai will be able to match that performance and help raise the required funds to ensure the Asiatic elephant is protected well.