Rufford Grantee news

5 Jul 2021

The Elephants Have Come to Town

The Elephants Have Come to Town image

From 2012 to 2015, The Rufford Foundation funded Tarsh Thekaekara in India for a project helping local communities deal with one of the world’s worst invasive plant species, Lantana camara. This innovative project has had an unusual and spectacular result – a herd of 125 elephants in the parks of London (, organised in collaboration with Elephant Family, an organisation also supported by The Rufford Foundation. Through their NGO Coexistence (, the project employed local artisans to create life-sized sculptures of elephants, highlighting both the threat from invasive species and the fragile populations of elephants in the Nilgiri Hills. The £11,000 from The Rufford Foundation partly contributed to 70 indigenous artisans being employed for 4 years with a total income of over £180,000. The whole project is likely to raise in excess of £1 million for conservation. Not only that, recently the project has used Lantana to make pre-fabricated Covid-19 isolation huts for indigenous communities in remote villages who have no space for sick people to isolate – a true win-win result.

Tarsh Thekaekara's projects

24 May 2023

Community Based Lantana Removal and Restoration

11 May 2015

Living with Invasive Species – A Bottom up Approach to Mapping and Monitoring Lantana camara

12 Mar 2012

Adapting to Invasives – A Community Based Approach to Research and Extraction of Lantana Camara