The Sri Lankan elephant will be the focal point of a colourful and engaging awareness campaign to be conducted by ODEL next month, as part of the department store's commitment to World Animal Day, celebrated around the world on 4th October.


Themed 'Nothing can replace the real thing,' the campaign will run from 1st to 20th October, and ODEL has created an eye-catching limited edition collection of merchandise exclusively to support this initiative.


Part of the proceeds from the sale of T shirts, caps, bags, mugs and key chains especially created for World Animal Day 2012 will be donated to Ath Athuru Sevana – the Elephant transit home in Udawalawe at the conclusion of the campaign, an announcement from ODEL said.


Additionally, in an effort to engage children in the cause, a special painting competition is to be conducted over five days -- 5th, 6th and 7th October and 13th and 14th October -- at ODEL's flagship store at Alexandra Place./p>


Children who visit the store on these days will have an opportunity to use their creativity and paint on white papier-mâché elephants in several sizes to win exciting prizes. "Elephants are among the most loved wild animals among children and adults alike, but sadly the human-elephant conflict continues to take its toll on our country's pachyderm population," said ODEL founder and CEO and World Animal Day Ambassador Otara Gunewardene. "World Animal Day provides the perfect backdrop to interest young audiences in particular in the appreciation of animals and their conservation and to communicate the importance of preserving our elephants before it is too late. Wildlife is an asset of our country and we need to work together to preserve it."


Classified as endangered by the IUCN red list, the Sri Lanka Elephant is one of the three recognised subspecies of the Asian Elephant. Threatened by habitat loss, these animals have now been restricted to a few national parks and reserves.


In October 2011 too, the elephant was among four endangered species that ODEL's World Animal Day activities focussed on. The others were the Sri Lankan Leopard, the Chestnut-backed Owlet and the Purple-faced Langur. One of the principal beneficiaries of ODEL's World Animal Day activities last year was a project initiated by the Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle for the conservation of the Purple-faced Langur.


Sri Lanka's leading fashion retail brand, ODEL was the only corporate entity to be recognised at the Animals Asia Welfare Awards 2011 at which the company received an award for 'Outstanding Contribution by a Corporation' for its contribution to the welfare of community animals through the 'Embark' initiative. The ODEL Foundation plans and executes all corporate social responsibility initiatives of the company.