We are delighted to announce that, thanks to your support, the Charitable Trust is now supporting a new elephant, Khumsuk!
62 year old Khumsuk returned to Huay Pakoot, along with her daughter Khamoon and granddaughter Lulu. They were reunited in the village for the first time in many years and they greeted each other with deep rumbles, excited chirps, and knowing trunk touches. It was a heart-warming sight and reinforces the quote “An elephant never forgets”.
Paired up with her daughter, over the last year, Khumsuk roams freely around the forests surrounding Huay Pakoot and is living the life that unfortunately in Thailand not all elephants are able to experience. Her days consist of nothing more than walking the forest foraging for food, making up lost time with her daughter Khamoon and basically just being an elephant. Compared to her former life of logging and giving rides to tourists her life is a whole lot brighter. Now that she is back in the forest it is physically obvious that she is happier, in her temperament and the way she carries herself. She radiates happiness and good health and it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that all she has to do now is simply “be”. “Khumsuk is happier in the forest and this makes us happy”. A statement often spoke by her Owners/Mahouts Singtoh and Dee.
Where in the forest she is positioned changes day to day and season to season, but the constant factor is she is always with her daughter and the two are never seen far from one another. The pair are often guided by their mahouts so as not to bump into our other resident mature elephant Thong Dee. This being because the two do not share a love for one another. Whether this is because they are both strong mature females, or due to a lifelong tiff that begun when they were young elephants meeting in Huay Pakoot over boys, food or territory is unclear but it sure does allow the imagination to run wild.
As long as Khumsuk is in the forest life will be better not only for herself but her owners and mahouts as well. Instead of working long hours over long months away from home they both get to be close to their family and in an environment that is beneficial to both their health and wellbeing.
Thank you for allowing Khumsuk to be with us.
All the best
I'm sure you all remember the very sad incident that occured just over a year ago now in which we lost our beloved young Songkran due to a pesticide being left out by a local farmer. A key factor in this scenario was that due to our remote location, it took too long to get Songkran the medical attention he needed.
As such, over the past year we have been raising funds to build an elephant clinic in the community for which we can bring in a vet to treat the elephants; a much quickly process than transporting an elephant out of the village. We are thus exciting to announce that we now have enough funds for stage one of the clinic!
The elephant clinic will be built by the villagers. THB 35,000 of donations have helped us to purchase the necessary wood and supplies we need in order to build this small clinic.
Currently there is one mahout who has a proper knowledge in administering elephant first aid. He was sent to attend Mahout and Elephant First Aid Training last year at Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) along with myself. Since then we both have treated our elephant on occasionally, mainly minor eye issue, crack toenails and bug bites. By having a proper elephant clinic, it will allow us opportunities to treat and give elephants treatment in an improved and better control environment. After building the clinic, with the help and support from TECC vet team, we aim to run such a mahout training with our eight mahouts in order to help equip them with modern knowledge since the villagers have quite a poor understanding in regard to hygiene, elephant treatment and care as we firmly believe by help educating locals about simple care, treatment and proper training, thereby reducing cases of cruelty. This will no doubt be beneficial for our project and hopefully contributing to a successful and smooth operation of our project in the long run.
Thank you for supporting this project, we still need more donations in order to progress with the clinic but we look forward to bringing you more news in the future!
Dee Drinya Totrakool
GVI Thailand Country Director
This month began the new Biodiversity Assessment Surveys. The purpose of these surveys is to gain a better understanding of what wildlife exists in our forest, especially as the surrounding area hasn’t yet been studied. The forests in Northern Thailand were once rich in biodiversity; unfortunately, due to the human impact on the environment, this has decreased mainly due to settlement, agriculture and hunting. Northern Thailand is still very much an under researched region, giving us an ideal opportunity to perhaps either discover new and rare species, or animal behaviors. A long-term aim is to educate the villagers and volunteers on the area’s biodiversity in order to help preserve forest ecosystems.
In December this initially involved selecting two different habitats for assessment. The first habitat selected is situated along side a river that flows through multiple habitats including secondary forest, bog land and a corn field. The second habitat is situated behind the village temple and travels uphill through a dry forest.
Our 6 surveys completed throughout January collected 14,622 observations comprising of 36 species across both trails including 17 species of bird, 17 species of insect and 2 species of mammal. The large majority of observations being that of Harvestmen, a species of arachnid belonging to the order Opiliones that are commonly mistaken for spiders. Only 6 of these observations occurred on the temple trail, the remaining 14,454 observations all being observed at the river. These arachnids are often found congregating in large groups hundreds to thousands strong, interestingly, harvestmen were recorded in all areas of the river trail except between 600 and 800 meters which makes up the open bog land section of the transect indicating that these insects may not thrive in such an environment perhaps due to exposure to the environment or predators.
Further surveys of both trails hope to identify many more species in the coming months. In addition we hope to mark further trails in the near future, including a trail along a road to measure the effects of disturbed areas compared to those not disturbed and an area of the dense forest in close proximity to a large cave.
Thank you for continuing to support this project.
Thank you from the Karen community, Mahouts, GVI Thailand and the GVi Charitable Trust for all your support in 2013!
The year started for us on a sad note; the loss of our young Songkran due to an unfortunate accident with a farmer in the community leaving out pesticide. This then spurred on our initiative for moving forward to put mahouts through ethical elephant training, teach the community about sustainable farmer methods and raise money to build a clinic for elephants in the village in case there’s any emergency.
This week, we had a visit from the vets from the conservation centre in Chiang Mai. They had come out to do health checks on our elephants and to look for any signs of illness or wounds. They began their health check with our three calves, Mario, Bpee Mai and Lulu by checking their weight, their height, their ears and their feet. Mario appeared to have some kind of insect living in his ear which they gave him an injection for and they also gave the calves some vitamins and deworming tablets.
Next we moved on into the forest to visit our first adult herd, Thong Dee, Mae San Jep and Mana. As soon as we arrived with Thong Dee, all the mahouts minus Patti Syee ran away from Thong Dee since they are terrified of being near her but Thong Dee seemed calm with the vets around her. Again the weights, feet and ears where checked and all seemed healthy with this herd. They were given some de-wormers, which Thong Dee and Mae San Jep ate off the ground and which Mana was given with pumpkin.
Next we moved onto our final herd, Kha Moon and Khum Suk. The health check on Kha moon went smoothly and she had no problems and ate her de-worming tablets no problem. Once the vets went to check Khum Suk, she started to get agitated and we had to give her a lot of elephant grass in order for her to keep still long enough for the vets to carry out their health check. Once the health check was completed, we found that all was healthy with this herd too.
Once the vets were done, they noticed an injury with one of our mahouts – Jordoh had stepped on a nail earlier on in the day whilst in the forest and was limping. The vets tended to his foot by flushing it with hydrogen peroxide several times and bandaging it up. Once they were finished, they vets had completed their job and where back on their way to Chiang Mai leaving us feeling more confident with the elephants health.
Thank you again and if you are looking to support a project this Christmas or New Year, please consider the Songkran fund
Environmental enrichment is the process of providing stimulating environments for animals in order for them to demonstrate their typical/natural species behavior; it can include the introduction of food related items such as like puzzle feeders and hidden food and to get the food the animals have to work and use natural foraging behaviors.
What GVI have provided for our three youngest elephants (Pbee Mai, Mario, and LuLu) are puzzle feeders. Three large blue barrels were purchased and each barrel has a different pattern of holes drilled into the sides. The purpose of the holes are for the elephants to figure out a way to maneuver their trunks in through the holes as a way to reach their food; instead of having food set out right in front of them. One of the barrels has rope twisted around the top of the barrel and the rope serves the same purpose as the holes drilled in the sides. As of now, only two calves have a barrel each day; one of the barrels is being saved to be filled with popcorn.
Eventually, the plan is to add more, and different, types of enrichments for the calves to use while in the village. What is beneficial about this new project is volunteers have the opportunity to come up with ideas that could potentially make a difference on Pbee Mai, Mario and LuLu and an unexpected benefit of the enrichment for the calves is the extra interaction volunteers get with them.
Volunteers are collecting data on the enrichment where three times a week, they are allocated an elephant to watch for one hour and recording any stereotypical behavior they elephants are showing and timing how long it lasts for and timing how long they are not showing signs of this behavior. Intensity of the stereotypical behavior will also be recorded and volunteers will be watching and recording how the elephants react without enrichment to enable the results to be compared.
Thank you for your continuing support for this project
GVI Chiang Mai Team
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager