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500km Auto Rickshaw race in Madhya Pradesh to save elephants

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Thirty colourfully decorated auto rickshaws will eccentrically race 500 kilometers from Khajuraho to Kipling Camp at Kanha (Madhya Pradesh) on November 3 to be the first to reach an elephant called Tara and raise 1 million pound for the purpose of arresting the dwindling population of elephants.

The fund-raising adventure was announced by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at a reception at their London residence Clarence House yesterday in the presence of the Indian High Commissioner Ranjan Mathai and his wife Gita.

Ninety per cent of the world's Asian elephants have been wiped out in the last 100 years.

Charles and Camilla are joint presidents of the Elephant Family charity, which was established by the latter's late brother Mark Shand, a conservationist who rescued Tara in India and wrote a bestselling book about it called 'Travels on my Elephant'.

Elephant Family was founded by Shand in 2002 to save the Asian elephant, especially those in India, from extinction. Among the charity's patrons are Simon Reuben, who was ranked eighth in the recently published GLOBAL INDIA RICH LIST, Cyrus and Priya Vandrevala and Gaurav Burman.

Shand had an unusual attachment for Tara. After his death, Camilla touchingly wrote in the UK's Times: "They say elephants never forget. Tara never forgot him and neither will we."

An Elephant Family booklet said: "The race will not merely be a test of speed, but of agility, wit and character." The rickshaws will speed past the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho, the Bandhavgarh National Park before arriving at Kipling Camp. There will be a team of two in each rickshaw.

In June, the rickshaws that will participate in the contest will roam around. On June 28, the fleet will be auctioned at Sotheby's to racers and backers and drivers.

The money raised from the auto rickshaw race will go to the Elephant Family, a release said.

First Published: Fri, March 27 2015. 17:48 IST