This November, David Alexander, CEO of Alexander Associates Group will be racing prominent figures including Owen Wilson, Stephen Fry and TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York across India, in support of Elephant Family.
Travels To My Elephant is a colourful rally raising funds to help save Asia’s forgotten elephants from extinction. The event will see a fleet of 30 tuk tuks race across India to the world’s most famous elephant, Tara, and is supported globally by Elephant Family’s Royal Presidents, TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, as well as a host of international stars.
“Elephant Family was started by my very dear friend, the late Mark Shand, who introduced me to the charity,” says David Alexander. “His focus on ensuring elephants and humans can co-exist in India was infectious – there was no question that I would be involved. But, it was his passion that ignited my own and led me to become a Patron.”
As part of the adventure, 20 tuk tuks designed by artists and creatives including Diane von Furstenberg, Nicky Haslam and Zandra Rhodes have been auctioned in London, ensuring the city streets were awash with colour. David Alexander was joined by his wife Jayne, as they bought one of the tuk tuks in order to raise funds for the charity. The couple will be taking part in the epic race, battling against 28 other teams from around the world.
David said of his involvement, “As a Patron of Elephant Family, I am a huge supporter of the work that they do. The natural world is part of our heritage and so it’s vitally important to protect the planet’s animals and ecosystems for future generations.”
David’s philanthropic role has also been a contributing factor in retaining perspective. “Giving back is incredibly satisfying,” he explains. “I relish being able to use my influence and experience for charities that are close to my heart. Over the years, I have continued to challenge myself – physically and mentally – to contribute and fundraise for good causes.
“Taking part in Travels To My Elephant will be a challenging, but worthwhile, way to raise not just money, but awareness of the plight of the endangered Asian elephant. All the funds raised will be invested where they are needed most – protecting the local people’s habitat, preventing conflict, and reconnecting the forest homes of these iconic animals.”
The inspiration for the Travels To My Elephant race dates back to 1988, when The Duchess of Cornwall’s brother, the late, great adventurer Mark Shand, rescued a street begging elephant named Tara. Together, they travelled across India and Tara became the star of Mark’s bestselling book Travels On My Elephant. Their journey inspired Mark to dedicate his life to raising awareness of the plight of the endangered Asian elephant.
The Asian elephant has declined in numbers by 90% in the past 100 years. Since launching, Elephant Family has doubled the amount of money going into their conservation and invested it to protect and reconnect Asia’s most important forests for elephants and all the animals who share them. Travels To My Elephant aims to raise £1m to reconnect landscape in Assam, Northeast India.
“Travels To My Elephant is an insane, magical, crazy adventure,” says Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn of the experience. “When I travelled to meet Tara in 1997, it was my very own magical mystery tour and one of the great moments of my life. What a be-fitting way to celebrate a man who did so much for these animals – save me a rickshaw!”
The race itself takes place from the 1st November, taking in the colourful and awe-inspiring scenery across Madhya Pradesh to Tara’s home at Kipling Camp, as teams of two from all corners of the globe take on this unique challenge.
(The photograph of Tara the Elephant and Mark Shand were published in error without acknowledgement to the copyright owner for which we apologise) and have duly rectified)