In 2012, we set out to solve a problem -- and help protect a species.
Elephant Origins founder Lisa Mills first arrived in Asia with her family to live in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan as part of her husband’s Guggenheim Fellowship to train wildlife biologists in the region. As a wildlife educator herself, Lisa was recruited to work on an elephant education program -- and soon discovered mounting evidence that the region’s Asian elephant populations were in jeopardy.
In the India tea regions just south of the Bhutan border, elephants were dying and sustaining injuries as a direct result of a range of agricultural practices. With over 74% of the world’s 570 million farms located in Asia, and roughly 13% of the world’s tea grown in the Assam area, the endangered elephant population would face dire consequences if this continued. Change was needed if the endangered Asian elephant population was to survive in the region’s increasingly human-dominated landscape.
It was clear that a path forward for tea growers to improve conditions for elephants was necessary. At the suggestion of tea growers, the idea of a certification program to incentivize the protection of elephants was developed. Lisa and her partners at the University of Montana approached the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, a wildlife conservation certification organization, to collaborate on an Elephant Friendly Tea program. An India-based team helped identify the root causes of deaths and injuries of elephants, and the certification standards were drafted to address each one.
Elephant Friendly™ Tea certification became the pathway to improving tea agriculture practices. Key hazards for elephants in tea lands -- such as drainage ditches, electrocution risks, toxic exposure to pesticides, and human-elephant conflict -- were identified, and Lisa began working with local farmers to encourage improved practices, helping tea farms gain recognition for their efforts. And so, the Certified Elephant Friendly™ program was established.
With the certification program finalized, Lisa established Elephant Origins Tea -- a mission-driven, conservation-committed company making Certified Elephant Friendly™ teas accessible to the global marketplace, giving certified farms economic opportunities and public encouragement to sustain their positive efforts to help save the Asian elephant.
CERTIFIED ELEPHANT FRIENDLY™
We rely on nature to infuse our teas with all the goodness that nature provides.
Exclusively sourced from tea gardens that meet the highest standards for the protection of elephants and their habitat, the Elephant Friendly™ Certification signifies that no elephants are harmed in the production of our teas. Our partner farms focus on sustainable practices for the protection of the environment, the health and well-being of the tea workers who produce our teas, and the quality of the teas we source.