For years, elephants, the gentle giants of our ecosystems, have been under constant threat from poaching.

Here are 5 elephant lovers who have been working hard to make the earth a safer place for these gentle giants.

1. Sangita Iyer

Sangita’s love for elephants goes way back to her childhood. Living in Palakkad, Kerala, she would often marvel at the bull elephant domesticated by the temple authorities. It was this childhood bond that led her to the path of becoming a conservationist.

Apart from making documentaries and drafting supreme court petitions, she has created a charitable trust named ‘Voice For Asian Elephants Society’ (VFAES). Based out of California, the trust works to protect the rights of elephants in India.

2. S P Pandey

Born and raised in a village in West Bengal that recorded frequent visits by elephants, snakes and leopards, Pandey started rescuing animals at 15. While it started with smaller animals and snakes, he soon realised the extent of animal harm in the area.

n 2013, he formally launched SPOAR (Society for Protecting Ophiofauna and Animal Rights). He along with his team has been conducting sensitisation workshops for the last two years across five elephant corridors in the area. Every year they reach out to 1,000 villagers with their workshops.

3. Dr Kushal Konwar Sarma

In the memory of Lakshmi— she was his favourite local elephant while growing up in Barama, Assam—he became a veterinarian. Ever since becoming a vet, he has dedicated his life to protecting elephants and bulls.

In the three decades of working in the field of preservation, Sarma has rescued and treated 700 elephants and bulls every year.

4. Anand Kumar

A wildlife conservationist, Anand Kumar innovated a unique yet simple solution to solve the man-elephant conflict in the Valparai plateau of Tamil Nadu.

Kumar launched a mobile SMS service to notify users about elephant presence in specific areas. Messages are sent in both English and Tamil. Since the launch, the average number of deaths has gone down to just one per annum as compared to three deaths.

5. Tenzing Badosa

Tenzing Badosa is the owner of two unique elephant-friendly organic tea farms in the territorial area of Kachibari village in the Udalguri district of Assam.

A true example of co-existing with the wild, as opposed to the common practise of cutting trees or starting a fire to keep the elephants away, he plants bamboo trees on which the wild elephants feed.

He does not put any barriers so that the elephants can move freely on the farms. At times, you can see at least 70-80 wild elephants on his farm.