Obituary: Mark Shand, a true force for conservation SEARCH NEWS

Mark Shand (in the blue shirt) with HRH Prince Charles on a recent visit to India.

It was with great sadness that we learned of the accidental death of Mark Shand in New York on 23 April. Mark founded Elephant Family, a successful UK charity that focuses all its efforts on saving the endangered Indian (Asian) Elephant.

On the day of Mark’s death Elephant Family released a statement: “Today we have lost the head of our family. Mark Shand was a true force for conservation. He was both a legend and inspiration and above all our great friend. We ask at this time that people’s thoughts are with his loved ones. We will miss him always.”

Mark was a wildly enthusiastic and committed conservationist, and had spent much time in India working with elephants. He was prepared to be outspoken in the cause of conservation, and in particular for elephants. He was the younger brother of the Duchess of Cornwall, and he was able to impart his enthusiasm to Prince Charles and many others.

In a statement from Clarence House the Duchess, the Prince of Wales and all her family members are said to be utterly devastated by this sudden and tragic loss. “Mark Shand was a man of extraordinary vitality, a tireless campaigner and conservationist whose incredible work through the Elephant Family and beyond remained his focus right up until his death,” the statement said.

Mark was in New York to celebrate an auction organised by Elephant Family, which had raised US$1.6 million in aid of elephant conservation.

World Land Trust (WLT) had a strong relationship with Elephant Family starting with participation in the Elephant Parade in 2010 when 260 elephants took to the streets of London in what was described at the time as the capital’s largest public art exhibition. WLT had two elephants in the parade: the ‘Pearly Prince’, covered in Swarovski pearls and crystals, was exhibited in Coutts window on the Strand, and the ‘Emerald Queen’ decorated with emeralds resided in Selfridge’s Wonder Room.

The Elephant Parade raised considerable funds for elephant conservation and a year later WLT was involved in an auction organised by Elephant Family which resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds being raised for elephants in India.

With Elephant Family, WLT has also co-funded elephant corridor projects in India, including the Tirunelli-Kudrakote corridor, in an ongoing partnership with Wildlife Trust of India.

“Mark understood that it was critical to save elephant habitat, which is why World Land Trust was always happy to collaborate with Elephant Family. His death will leave a massive gap in the conservation world,” said John Burton, WLT Chief Executive.