Stanley Johnson and Queen guitarist Brian May team up to save Asian elephants

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 January 2015

Stanley Johnson. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Stanley Johnson. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

© Nigel Sutton email

Conservationist Stanley Johnson has called on the prime minister of India to bring an end to the killing and abuse of elephants in the country.

Asian elephants. Picture: PA/Steve Parsons.Asian elephants. Picture: PA/Steve Parsons.

The former MEP, who has written numerous books on environmental issues, is one of 17 high-profile figures to have signed a letter to Narendra Modi urging him to improve his country’s treatment of Asian elephants.

Mr Johnson, 74, of Park Village East, Regent’s Park, is joined by Queen guitarist Dr Brian May and fellow conservationist Lord Alexander Macmillan in signing the letter written by leading lawyer and animal rights campaigner Duncan McNair.

The letter notes that the numbers of wild Asian elephants have declined from estimates of a million or more in the 19th century to barely 40,000 today, of which 25,000 live in India.

In the letter, Mr McNair puts this decline down to the capture and hunting of elephants, as well as the decline of their natural habitat due to the ever-expanding human population.

Queen guitarist Brian May. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall.Queen guitarist Brian May. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall.

Mr Johnson told the Ham&High: “A huge amount of effort is going into raising awareness of the plight of African elephants. In our focus on the African elephant, we really shouldn’t forget about the Asian elephant.

“The Asian elephants are really under a great threat. As the Indian middle classes become ever-increasing in number, elephants are becoming the consumer accessory – you get married and you have an elephant at the bridal ceremony.

“One of the things we are particularly concerned about is the way the elephants are treated in the temple. These poor young elephants are battered into submission.

“Given the huge numbers of Asian people in Britain today and given the number of people who are concerned about animal welfare and conservation, it made sense to write this letter.

“I think this is one to bring to the attention of the Great British public and the government in its dealings with India.”

Asian elephants are found across southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east.

According to Mr McNair, African elephants outnumber their Asian counterparts by about 20 to one.

Through visits to India, Mr McNair has also come to learn of “pajan” – a brutal ritual used to make baby elephants submissive to humans after their capture.

He said: “Baby elephants are worth a lot of money. They are snatched in the wild and typically their mother is killed in front of them because she tries to protect her offspring.

“The baby is taken away, deprived of food and water and then beaten with sticks and bats and hammers to deplete its spirit. seventy-five per cent die as a result of the beatings.

“The purpose of pajan is said to be to break the spirit of the baby elephant to make it supine for use in tourism and in temples for weddings and festivals.”

Mr McNair added: “It’s all driven by the commercial imperative and everyone in the world should know about this. It is a matter of a few short years before elephants in the wild are completely annihilated.”

If you wish to get involved with Mr McNair’s campaign, email or call 07852 416696.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 15:46

With Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe expecting to spend her third Christmas in Evin prison, the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt used a visit to Iran to slam the middle-eastern nation’s imprisonment of UK dual nationals including the West Hampstead mum.

Yesterday, 15:28

Police want the public’s help to identify a man wanted over two Golders Green burglaries.

Yesterday, 12:08

Dawn Barnes will be looking to upset the odds as she has been reselected as Lib Dem candidate for the Hornsey and Wood Green seat.

Yesterday, 10:23

Eastenders actor and Celebrity Masterchef winner John Partridge will be switching on the Archway Christmas lights.

Yesterday, 09:29

Hampstead’s Lisa Deaner, 54, has been shortlisted for an Anthony Nolan Supporters award by the blood cancer charity.

Yesterday, 07:00

Save Swiss Cottage is crowdfunding for a judicial review into Camden Council’s decision to approve the Construction Management Plan (CMP) for 100 Avenue Road last week.

Mon, 16:55

A workshop owner who engraves benches on Hampstead Heath was forced to break in to his own business to retrieve machinery after the landlord changed the locks and evicted him over unpaid rent.

Mon, 14:00

Champagne corks were popped on Saturday as the well-known former Blustons clothes store in Kentish Town has been re-opened as a vintage charity shop.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now