The Real Elephant Collective

& The Elephant Family 

Text written in conversation with Shubhra Nayar, designer and co-founder of The Real Elephant Collective, regarding the processes and ideas behind the Lantana Elephants


The Real Elephant Collective is a not-for-profit, socio-environmental enterprise based in Gudalur, a town in the Nilgiris hills, Tamil Nadu, India. For the last four years, The Collective have been working on the Lantana Elephant project, part of the Co-Existence campaign conducted in partnership with UK conservation NGO, Elephant Family. 


The project has created elephants made from lantana camara, a species invasive to India. Lantana was brought as an ornamental plant by British colonists in the early 19th century but has now gone feral. 

The Elephant Family envisioned a grand travelling installation, a huge herd of life-size Lantana Elephants migrating across several continents to raise awareness about the current threats facing elephants and raise funds for conservation. If you are in London sometime before May 2021, you will have the opportunity to visit and experience some of this now hundred-strong herd as they range through and inhabit various Royal Parks


While Lantana Elephants have received significant news coverage - indeed they are spectacular and attention-grabbing like their real-life counterparts - there are other ideas and processes behind their development worth foregrounding, and which are relevant to the themes of this conference and the problem of human-elephant entanglement