When someone declares that he co-founded a charity “with my elephant” one has to take notice of the fellow. This is exactly what the late Mark Shand did when he knew that the only way to save Asian elephants was to become proactive and help. His passion for elephant conservation and his decision to use his standing in life (he was the brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, for one) to help Asian elephants was the result of a burgeoning relationship with his elephant, Tara.
His compassion towards elephants definitely evolved from his days of “Travels On My Elephant” when Shand would discipline Tara with a bullhook, as much as it hurt him (emotionally) to do so. Tara the elephant won his heart and softened it. Mark Shand was transformed into a great elephant person as he dedicated the rest of his life, through his good deeds & his charity, Elephant Family, to protecting Asian elephants.
Mark understood the importance of a wildlife corridor for elephants. Elephant corridors, the “reconnecting of land,” providing the species with the forests and habitat they desperately need, gives these endangered elephants a chance to live.
The following is transcribed from “Mark Shand Tribute” by Elephant Family
Opening video montage (lighthearted music)
Mark Shand: “India, year after year this grand, chaotic and vibrant land has lured me back. It was here that something happened which changed my life. I fell in love. Her name was Tara. She was a beautiful female Asian elephant.”
Mark Shand: “The monsoons are over and I am back with my elephant Tara at her home in central India. In 1988 my life changed when I fell in love with this elephant. I wrote a book about our travels together across her country. But more importantly it was through Tara that I learned that the Asian elephant could be teetering on the brink of extinction.”
(scene: elephants trumpeting in distress; they are being chased by humans bearing torches)
“The elephant problem across India is out of control. The increasing pressure of human population is destroying the forests of the Asian elephant. To survive starving herds have no choice but to raid crops causing damage, destruction and death.”
“This is why I co-founded, with my elephant and with a few other people, Elephant Family, to make sure that we could do something about this and re-address the balance.” (instrumental music)
“Well, well into the journey in 1988 it was a win. The win soon turned into a passion for an elephant. I thought it was the most incredible thing. It gave me a direction in life. I always say that basically elephants are a lot more intelligent than human beings. They are quiet, they are superior, they are wise. And without them we are pretty well lost because if we lose them, we lose the forest, we lose everything.” (somber music)
“The biggest threat that faces elephants in the wild in Asia is loss of habitat. And that is due to human beings’ encroachment upon elephant lands. It is a virtual war out there and uh, we know who is going to lose.”
“The only solution is land, is reconnecting land. The only way is to connect forests up together again. That is the only solution.”
“Elephant Family’s First (Elephant) Corridor”
(happy instrumental music, elephants trumpeting, in response to each other)
MS: “We have had success, uh, which is great. I mean, there is nothing better than… (for) any kind of charity to work is to have… to have a success. By securing this corridor and then going on to our next corridors we are proving it can be done. So, it has taken five or six years and a great deal of money, uh, to secure this corridor. And it means now that six thousand elephants are moving freely.” (elephants happily browsing the land and kicking up dirt)
“As long as we keep at it, as long as we work with the right NGOs, (non-governmental organizations) as long as we can persuade the governments to take an interest and invest in their wildlife I am very hopeful that the Asian elephant will survive. So, I am optimistic, yeah. I am up.”
“By the time I die I would like to see four or five major populations of elephants left in Asia. And, um, if you have got that you have got elephants left, and for all of our grandchildren to see.” (Mark and his elephant Tara walking back through the forest)
“Elephant Family: In Giants’ Footsteps”
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Note: The late Mr. Mark Shand seemed very devoted to his elephants and his kindness to elephants showed in his charity, his deeds & his interviews but the ankus carried by the mahout is no less distressing to see.
Mark Shand wiki: (28 June 1951 – 23 April 2014)
Elephant Family facebook @elephantfamily “protecting Asian elephants and their habitat”
Elephant Spoken Here facebook
Wildlife corridor wiki
Elephant Parade wiki
Watch YouTube Video: “Mark Shand Tribute” by Elephant Family