I know what you’re thinking, another Elephant Collection?! But actually Asian Elephants and African Elephants are very different, we share more DNA with Bonobos than they share with each other! Crazy, right? Which is why Asian Elephant Conservation needs it’s own Pigments by Liv Collection.
Found throughout India and Southeast Asia, Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) are actually a singular species with possibly three living subspecies. According to Trunks & Leaves, these subspecies are found in three different countries and include Elephas maximus: maximus (Sri Lanka), sumatranus (Sumatra) and borneensis (Borneo).
What’s the difference between African and Asian Elephants?
These two elephants differ both physically and behaviourally, which in turn has a huge effect on the conservation of their respective species. For example, unlike African Elephants Cows (females), Asian Elephant Cows don’t have tusks. That means, because of ivory poaching and trade, the sex-ratio of Bulls to Cows is skewed – which is not good for reproduction.
Are Asian Elephants endangered?
To put it plainly, yes. The IUCN tags Asian Elephants as <EN>, meaning they are endangered, and their population is also recorded as decreasing. There are 10 times more African Elephants than Asian Elephants in the world.
Why do we need Asian Elephant Conservation?
If, god forbid, all Asian elephants disappeared, what would happen to their eco-systems? Well, Asian Elephants love to roam. Like African Forest Elephants, their sheer size helps to create pathways through dense vegetation, giving greater access to other wildlife. This is incredibly important for maintaining the biodiversity of the forest.
A design inspired wild Asian Elephant Conservation
Elephant tourism is super popular in Asia, but it has little to no impact on Asian Elephant conservation. This is why I wanted the Asian Elephant design to focus on the conservation of Asian elephants in the wild. There are four hidden messages features of the design that do this.
Why do Asian Elephants have pink spots?
As Asian Elephants get older, they lose some of their natural skin pigments, making their face look like it’s covered in pink freckles. This made my heart melt, until I spoke to my favourite Elephant correspondent, @thegirlwiththeelephanttattoo. She shared with me that Asian Elephants can also get these freckles from sunburn – so they’re effectively the equivalent of age spots.
Asian Elephant rides are used throughout Asia to attract tourists. What you don’t see, is these amazing creatures being cleaned frequently to make them less smelly for tourists. This scrubbing removes the dirt that they wallow in, which they use to protect themselves from the sun. One reason, why captive Asian elephants have more pink freckles.
I wanted the Asian Elephant design to highlight this difference, which is why I wanted to make the pink watercolours stand out. So when someone asks, you can also share this story.
Different to African Elephants
As I mentioned earlier, Asian Elephants and African Elephants are completely different. So I wanted the Asian Elephant design to be recognisably different than the popular Pigments by Liv Elephant design. For me, one of the most prominent differences between the two species is the cows.
As we discovered previously, Asian Elephant cows, unlike African Elephant cows, don’t have tusks. Which has big implications on Asian Elephant Conservation. This is why I wanted the elephant that inspired the Asian Elephant design to be a cow, rather than a bull!
Inspired by Jasmine of Udawalawe National Park
When Trunks and Leaves first shared their idea of a partnership with me, I was over the moon. One of the first things they did, was introduce me to Jasmine. Jasmine is a Sri Lankan Asian Elephant and has played a big role in Trunks & Leaves.
Studying her has helped Trunks & Leaves, and therefore us, better understand Asian Elephant behaviour. Most importantly, their tendency to roam, these beautiful animals were made to be free! Although Jasmine frequents Udawalawe National Park, she is one of 1000 elephants that use the nearby elephant corridors.
As the human population expands, Jasmine’s adventures beyond the National Park highlight the need to protect these areas to reduce human-elephant conflict. Human elephant conflict outweighs poaching when it comes to Asian Elephant conservation. A huge focus for Trunks and Leaves.
the trunk and the leaf
If you look super closely at the Asian Elephant design you’ll see that Jasmine is using her trunk to grip a small branch. This is no accident! Usually, Pigments by Liv designs focus on just the animal. But I decided to include the leaf to represent Trunks and Leaves. Trunks and Leaves are dedicated to the conservation of wild Asian Elephants, and are the chosen charity the collection will donate to!
Supporting Wild Asian Elephant Conservation
Like all Pigments by Liv Collections, the Asian Elephant Collection will donate 10% of sales to a particular wildlife charity. Inspired by nature to give back to nature. There are 150 items in the Asian Elephant Collection to represent the 150 Asian Elephants that are permanent residence of Udawalawe National Park – an area Trunks and Leaves protect. 10% of every single one of these items will be donated to Trunks and Leaves to support Asian Elephant conservation. I hope it helps in their mission of “Facilitating the Peaceful Coexistence of People and Elephants”.
“Trunks & Leaves is the leading science-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of wild Asian elephants and their habitats. Our work is guided by the fundamental belief that all conservation actions must be inspired and justified by facts and evidence. We study the elephants and the people because we recognize it is important to understand both sides of the story.”