Extinction Is No Figment of the Imagination; Science Fiction Authors United in Fight to Save Asian Elephant
Byline: Laura Davis
THE world of science fiction contains many strange creatures.
Bizarre life forms fight for survival on planets existing only in the readers' imaginations.
Now the genre is being used to help save the lives of one of Earth's own intriguing animals - the Asian elephant.
An anthology of short stories about the giant beasts written by renowned science fiction and horror writers will be sold in aid of a Chester Zoo conservation campaign.
The Asian Elephant in Crisis Campaign aims to prevent the extinction of the animals which are expected to die out in just over 50 years.
John Regan, development manager at Chester Zoo, said: "We are lucky to have pieces donated by many good writers. All the profits will go towards the campaign."
The Asian elephant population would not survive without projects such as this, he added.
He said: "By one recent projection the Asian elephant will be extinct in the wild and in captivity within little more than 50 years.
"It is a tragedy that no adequately resourced and co-ordinated effort is being currently made within the European zoological community to develop a viable, geneticallymanaged population of this magnificent and charismatic animal."
Award-winning Liverpool author Stephen Baxter is editing the anthology.
He will be joined by a second Liverpudlian, horror writer Clive Barker, who is contributing a short story.
Also donating pieces are Brian Aldiss, Peter Hamilton, Sir Anthony Sher, Ray Mears, Gregory Benford, Larry Niven and SP Somtow, from Thailand.
Celebrated science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has already submitted an introduction to the book.
The Asian elephant - also known as the Indian elephant - survives in the wild in 13 countries but it is seriously endangered.
There are fewer than 50,000 animals still living, a fraction of the African elephant numbers.
The Chester Zoo campaign involves a combination of projects both in the elephants' natural environments and in captivity.
These include a breeding programme based at the zoo.
The North of England Zoological Society, which owns Chester Zoo, was the first British institution to breed Asian elephants. …