~ Elephant Trails ~
Adventurers set off for jungle trek on elephants
Two Hongkong adventurers will set out on an international expedition later this month through the jungles of southern India on elephants - the first such trip of its kind.
Public relations consultant, Mr. Chris Lonsdale and his wife, My Anthea Chan Fung-tei, will leave the territory on Saturday to join the Kerala Elephant Expedition 1990.
"The aim of the expedition is to arouse public awareness over the rapid destrusction of the world's forests and the need to protect the environment", Mr Lonsdale said yesterday.
"My wife and I have never been in a jungle before and it is unlikely that we will have another chance.
"In just a few years all of the world's forests will have been permanently destroyed", he said.
Conservationists estimate taht about 12 million hectares of tropical forests are lost each year around the globe, and 40 million hectares of India's 74 million hectares of forest land are already severely degraded.
"Satellite data shows that India continues to lose forests at the rate of 1.3 million hectares per yearwhich means that even discounting population increase, the country will be without forests in 27 years", Mr Lonsdale said.
"An examination of the results of forest destruction in India shows us clearly what is going to happen to the whole planet if we continue this madness."
Veteran Indan mountaineer and adventurer, Mandip Singh Soin, who invited Mr Lonsdale when they met on the Arctic ICEWALK expedition in April last year, will lead the team of 13 which will include nine Indians and two Britons.
The $120,000 expeditions, which will use nine elephants, will set out on January 17 from Trichur on the west coast of India and travel 250 kilometres inland on an unchartered route through dense jungle.
The journey will take the team through two wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala state before arriving at the Perimbakalum wildlife sanctuary on the border of Tamil Nadu.
The group hopes to complete the expedition within 15 days and the journey will be recorded on film.
The couple will return to Hongkong in early February and plan to give a series of lectures and slide shows to organizations and schools.
10-day adventure expedition
The elephants trundled their way through the dense forests of Kerala. And seated on them, besides their mahouts, were 11 adventurers with a mission. One of their primary concerns was environment as they travelled on elephant back through Trichur and Palagat districts of the State besides passing through Parambaikulam Wildlife Sanctuary.
The leader of the expeditions was Mr Mandip Singh Soin, an avid trekker and mountaineer. According to him, the 10-day long epedition was undertaken to promote the spirit of adventure. More importantly, there awas also the objective of creating environmental awareness and to ake people realize how ecological issues were critical for the very survival of the human race.
Traversing a distance of 101 kilometres during their expedition, the group collected all non-biodegradable garbage en route and brought it to Cochin. Further, members of the group studied both the wildlife and vegetation in the Parambikulam Sanctuary and climbed the highest peak there.
According to Mr Soin, the group collected sufficient information to promote ecological awareness about the State. Further, this could also be used to promote tourism in the State, he said. Besides the Kerala Government, various other individuals and organizations also extended their support to the expedition.