African Elephant - The Orphans


Every day, 55 elephants are killed because of ivory poaching and human-wildlife conflict. The death of just one elephant can lead to much wider devastation. Hundreds of calves are left orphaned every year, unable to care for themselves and suffering from the psychological trauma of having their mother violently taken from them. The insatiable lust and unchecked greed of humans is leading many of the world’s most beautiful creatures closer and closer to extinction.

Ivory poaching, climate change, deforestation, and human-wildlife conflict are all major threats for the survival of elephants. Between 2009–2016, poaching alone saw a 30% reduction in population numbers. But aside from poaching, drought that has been seen over much of East Africa and intense levels of deforestation are making it harder and harder for elephants to survive. In some countries, it is thought that more elephants are dying than being born each day!

The gentle giants are environmentalists, looking after the place where they live and making sure there are pathways to water which is incredibly useful for other animals too. They are incredibly social, living in strong family units. The mothers spend every moment teaching their babies, protecting them from danger, and, of course, showering them with love. They will do almost anything to protect them. Also, the babies suck their trunks just like human babies which is incredibly adorable!

Gillie and Marc have been called the greatest creators of Public Art in New York’s history by the New York Times. They have dedicated their lives to saving endangered species through their love of public art, bringing the hard facts about conservation and, most importantly, the love of these animals into the thoughts and hearts of the public. After their recent trip to Kenya, Gillie and Marc saw first-hand the devastating effects of human greed on the survival of elephants.

Gillie and Marc have created this monumental sculpture installation titled The Orphans, featuring 20 bronze elephant calves running towards a 3-metre-tall mother, representing the mother the babies have lost. The mother’s tusks have been painted a deep blue to draw attention to all the issues of elephant endangerment and to make people reconsider what tusks are now and what they will be in the future. This installation is a reminder of the orphans who are left behind because of human selfishness and serves as a vessel to raise critical awareness and funds to save elephants before it’s too late.

Each sculptured baby symbolises a real orphaned elephant in the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, that the artists sketched on a trip to Kenya. The best part is, you can adopt them by heading over to their website;

Spitalfield Elephants by Gillie and Marc

Spitalfields markets, shops and restaurants. Open 7 days a week.
Entry is free.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) is one of East Africa’s oldest and most pioneering conservation charities. Protecting elephants is at the heart of what we do, operating the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. But we do far more beyond this critical project. From Anti-Poaching to Mobile Veterinary Units, Aerial Surveillance to Saving Habitats and Community Outreach to Water for Wildlife, we work to give hope to Africa’s wild animals and habitats and secure a safe and bright future for wildlife and those people living alongside wild species.

For more information, visit

Welcome to The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands. Travel is an incredible gift. It has the ability to open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. At TreadRight, our mission is clear; to have a positive impact on the people and communities we visit, to protect wildlife and marine life, and to care for the planet we call home. Read more here >

From Kenya to the heart of London, our sculpture ‘herd’ arrived in London on 4th December, where they will reside for the next 12 months. You can come and meet the 21 life-size bronze elephants and get to know the real-life orphans that have inspired the twenty orphans, who stand around a central mother figure. Each sculpture includes the name of the orphan they symbolise and an interactive information board, enabling you to read the unique rescue story of each elephant and directly support their rehabilitation journey. To help create awareness of our work in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants, so that we can save more lives, we encourage you to take photos when you visit and to share these on your social media accounts using the hashtag #ElephantsOfTomorrow. View the 20 Orphans below.