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Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Reintegrating Elephants into Thailand's Forests
Sah Jah Has Lots of Food
Sah Jah Has Lots of Food

Dear Supporters,

 

A new decade, new challenges. This has been especially true at a global level with recent events creating an unstable future and troublesome times for people across the world. We are working hard to retain continuity for our project and ensuring that the lives of our GVI Trust elephants are not impacted negatively as a result. All we want for Sah Jah, Lulu and Lah Lah is for them to continue their peaceful lives in the forest away from the turbulence of the human world.

 

In our first fundraiser of the new decade, we wanted to get everyone fit and active. We spent the day hosting an Exercise-athon, where participants spent 12 hours taking on the challenge of a full gauntlet of sports or fitness-related activities, ranging from running, to table tennis, to dodgeball, to a variety of workout sessions, and many more. Everyone showed great commitment, despite the gruelling challenge. 

 

We even tried some plogging, where we picked up litter while jogging! Some new and old experiences for all, and all for a good cause. We’re delighted to have raised £750 from the day’s activity!

 

In addition, on Valentine’s Day, our group of short and long-term interns  organised a romantically platonic fundraiser. This began with a brunch - an eclectic mix of pancakes, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and more, which our interns spent the morning preparing. Around the middle of the day, we all sat down together to eat the delicious food they had made for us. 

 

Afterwards, they hosted a speed-dating session! With half of participants stationary and the other rotating, we had the chance to get to know one another that little bit more. Lively discussions and interesting stories were shared, and everyone felt that little bit closer as a result. Not only was the day very well organised and enjoyed by all, but the interns raised over 3500THB (£100+). 

 

Boh Duh, who joined us on the National Scholarship Program in December of last year, has gone from strength to strength over her first few months with us. She has been a huge help in all aspects of the project, from assisting in the classroom, to running project activities. Boh Duh has also proved to be an incredibly fast learner as she has learned how we take data on our elephants in a short space of time. She can now record the data with minimal supervision, which is highly impressive! Boh Duh joining has also created a dynamic duo with her and fellow Community Liaison, Su. The two have become firm friends and support the project as a team. Her confidence and charisma means that she has also quickly established good relationships with participants. We are proud of how much Boh Duh has achieved with us already!

 

With all of the tumultuous events so far in 2020, the sight of a baby elephant learning how to feed itself for the first time is what gives us the feeling of everything will be okay in the end. Every day Lah Lah surprises us as she learns the art of foraging from mother Kah Moon and auntie Sah Jah. The trunk is the most useful and dexterous tool for an elephant, but it is also the hardest to master. Whereas before, Lah Lah would just let her trunk flail everywhere with little understanding of how to use it, now she is able to pick up branches and leaves. She is beginning to manage the difficult task of then putting those branches or leaves into her mouth to eat. She is successful... about half the time. 

 

The prospect of Lah Lah, born in the forest, living a life of happiness in her natural habitat is what continues to give us hope of a better future for us all.

 

A big thank you to our Donors, Fundraisers and Supporters!

 

With Gratitude,

 

Chiang Mai

Lah Lah Learning how to be an Elephant
Lah Lah Learning how to be an Elephant
Exercise-athon Fundraiser
Exercise-athon Fundraiser
Exercise-athon Fundraiser - Running
Exercise-athon Fundraiser - Running
Exercise-athon Fundraiser - Plogging
Exercise-athon Fundraiser - Plogging
Valentine's Fundraiser Brunch Prep
Valentine's Fundraiser Brunch Prep
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Our New NSP and Boh Duh
Our New NSP and Boh Duh

Dear Supporters,

 

With the end of 2019 approaching, it is not just the end of the year or the decade that is of significance to us at this time. We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of our oldest GVI Trust elephant, Khum Suk, at the age of 70. This was a shock to us all, but we are comforted by the fact that she died peacefully in her sleep in the forest. She was suffering from no health issues prior to her death and was approaching the average life expectancy for Asian Elephants. Fortunately, she has been able to spend her last few years in her natural habitat with her family. She leaves behind daughter, Kah Moon, and granddaughters, Lulu and Lah Lah. Her mahout, Wynn, is obviously devastated, having learned so much from her as a young mahout. The bond between mahout and elephant is more evident to all of us now, more than ever. 

 

We were fortunate and privileged to be invited by the villagers of Huay Pakoot to attend Khum Suk’s funeral, as she was buried in the forest. This was our chance to say goodbye, and we are grateful to the village for allowing us to do so. This also showed us once again how strong the relationship between the Karen people and elephants is, as Khum Suk was mourned just as any human family member would be. 

 

This is the first elephant death in the village, aside from the death of Kah Moon’s calf, Wan Mai, (who passed away from the elephant herpes virus) in living memory for many of the villagers. The elephant’s longevity is impressive and allows for long-lasting relationships with humans. All of the villagers that attended her funeral had been a mahout for Khum Suk at some time in the past or had some relationship with her. By being in their natural habitat, Asian Elephants stand a much greater chance of living long lives they naturally would when not in captivity. With the passing of Khum Suk, we are more determined than ever to ensure that the elephants she leaves behind continue to live their lives in the forest, where they belong.

 

We would also like to thank everyone who has fundraised to keep Khum Suk in the forest over the years, as without you, she would not have been able to enjoy her retirement as she deserved to. 

 

It is still too early for us to know how this will affect the small herd Khum Suk was matriarch of. We will be keeping a close eye on Sah Jah, Kah Moon and Lah Lah to see if there is anything we can do to help them through their expected period of mourning. Mourning behaviour has been observed previously when Kah Moon’s calf, Wan Mai, passed away, so our data collection will be integral to us monitoring them. While this is a sad occasion for us all, we are reassured by the belief that Khum Suk’s legacy will live on through her descendants. 

 

Our recent fundraising activity has focused primarily on ensuring the newest addition to Khum Suk’s family, baby Lah Lah, can spend her life in the forest and hopefully never know of life in captivity. We recently did a marathon three-day litter pick in the local district to not only do this, but to also clean up the area that elephants like Lah Lah spend their days. Our original target was to pick up 200kg of litter, but we far surpassed that initial goal and over the three days picked up a whopping 738.2kg (1,627lbs)! 

 

We are proud of our success but it also brings home the shocking reality of how much litter we all produce. Our efforts also did not go unnoticed! Our litter-picking activity went viral in regional news within Thailand. In addition, we also received a thank-you from the district governor and will be receiving certificates in recognition of our efforts. Raising environmental awareness was hoped to be one of the benefits of this fundraiser, but this positive press was more than we could have imagined. Everyone’s positive attitude and diligence made for a highly successful event. Thank you to everyone who donated and/or participated from home.

 

In other news, we also delighted to announce that we are now joined by our newest local scholar, Boh Duh. Boh Duh joins us on the National Scholarship Program (NSP), following in the footsteps of Community Liaison, Su. Boh Duh brings with her an impressive level of English and has developed a close relationship with many of us already. She now supports Su in her work, and will be a great help moving forward. It is also a real positive for us to have another female member of the local community have the opportunity to develop their skills and language capability by working with us. It further solidifies the importance of the NSP, which is supported by your donations to the GVI Trust.

 

As we move into a new decade, it is important to remember that, with every end, there is a beginning. The birth of Khum Suk’s granddaughter, Lah Lah earlier this year is proof of that. We will all miss Khum Suk hugely, but we are excited for what the future 2020s decade will bring. With your help, we know that we can achieve even more.

 

With Gratitude,

 

GVI Chiang Mai

Khum Suk
Khum Suk
Hot Conditions
Hot Conditions
All Done!
All Done!
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Dear Supporters,

 

In a year that has seemed to pass by with increasing speed, we are once again saying goodbye to the rainy season and preparing ourselves for the heat of the dry season. In saying that, the weather continues to be quite volatile, with us experiencing downpours and roasting sunshine in unpredictable measure. This has also meant that our hikes to see the elephants can have us wading through mud one day and searching for a shady shield the next. Our GVI Trust elephants, Khum Suk, Sah Jah and Lulu have all begun to move to new areas, as part of the seasonal transition. Lulu continues to stay close to herdmate Dee Dee, both of whom are still a fair distance from the village of Huay Pakoot. Khum Suk, Sah Jah, Kah Moon and little Lah Lah have now moved much closer and are now within walking distance. Talking of Lah Lah...

 

Lah Lah, born in May of this year to experienced mother Kah Moon has captured the hearts of everyone who has gone to see her. Khum Suk and Sah Jah are also doing their fair share to look after the newborn and their herd mentality has never been so evident. Lah Lah is growing rapidly and we have to be extra careful when we go to see her or her mother as she is both fast and adventurous! Kah Moon is obviously very protective, so we always ensure to keep the number of people going to see them at any one time lower than is normal and we try to keep a good distance away so as not to disturb them. Kah Moon has begun to teach her curious daughter the ways of the elephant and it is a privilege for us all to see Lah Lah grow up in the habitat that she belongs in. She will not master the use of her trunk for several years, but she is constantly using it to poke at interesting plant-life in the forest. On one recent hike, she accompanied her mother to an area to drink, and as she cannot use her trunk yet, she simply dunked her whole head into the water, resurfacing completely covered in mud! 

 

We have also begun to take data on Lah Lah, so we can see how her behaviour changes as she matures. It is especially interesting for us to witness the behaviour of an elephant that has never had to endure the tourist camp experience. Due to the differences in how a young elephant behaves, we have had to update our ethograms so as to encompass her unique behaviours. 

 

Finally, we can now confirm that Lah Lah will also be supported by the GVI Trust, now bringing the total number of elephants that your donations help to keep in the forest to four! Of course, this means we now have the challenge of continuing to raise the money required to accomplish this.

 

In July of this year, we embarked on what is now becoming an annual fundraising challenge to walk the 57km to the nearby town of Mae Chaem. Over thirty volunteers, interns and staff hiked over the course of two days, up and down steep climbs. On the first day, we walked over 20km in unseasonably intense heat that made the journey all the more challenging. We then camped overnight, before setting off early the next morning. While the second day was cooler, it was a longer distance and was a real test of endurance for all. To everyone’s credit, the walk was completed at an unbelievable pace and regardless of whether people walked the whole distance or some of it, it was an achievement that everyone could be justly proud. Moreover, thanks to all of you, we raised over £2,000! 

 

With the knowledge that we now also are fundraising for baby Lah Lah, we are currently busy planning a number of activities to take place in the remainder of the year. Stay tuned for some exciting challenges and to see how you can not only get involved but even potentially participate from back home!

 

Let’s do this!

 

Of course, it is not just the elephants that your money goes towards. Community Liaison Su has continued to be an integral part of our project. Her sense of humour, cheekiness and smile have endeared her to everyone. Moreover, her willingness to learn is evident, and she is currently being taught EFR (Emergency First Response) so that she may one day be able to gain the qualification. This will be an extremely useful skill for her! We are also delighted to announce that Su will be staying with us for the foreseeable future and she will be getting even more involved in the project than before. In addition to her work to organise village activities, she continues to teach Pakinyaw on a regular basis and also helps to translate when we go to hear old stories of the village from members of the community. Her help at the school has been invaluable, and she is now beginning to take part in our lesson planning sessions, as well! 

 

Time may be flying for us all at the moment, but it is at times like these that we should take a moment to appreciate recent achievements. Of course, there is still much more that we can work towards, and with your help, we know that together we can continue to reach even greater heights.

 

Once again thank you for all your support!!!

 

GVI Chiang Mai

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Dear Supporters,

As we move into the traditionally wet and stormy Thai rainy season, the sight of a new baby elephant has been a great source of catharsis for all that see her. The birth of Kah Moon’s female calf at the end of May 2019 has brought us not just this, but also renewed determination to keep our GVI Trust elephants in the forest, where they belong. Knowing that we have helped to create the opportunity for an Asian Elephant to be born in the forest, rather than a camp, only further reinforces that the work that we are doing is valuable and impactful. With this new birth, Khum Suk now has another grandchild and Lulu is now a big sister! Sah Jah is acting as doting aunt, helping best friend Kah Moon care for her newborn. 

 

Khum Suk, Sah Jah and Kah Moon spent the first half of the quarter having some quality alone time in the local conservation forest. However, since the birth of the baby, the herd has reunited as they start to move back towards the village. Lulu, too, is on the move, starting to show more independence from herdmate DeeDee. However, when they do meet-up once again, it’s not long before they start interacting, as their urge to play proves too much to resist. Lulu is also soon to be the birthday girl, as she turns 9 years old in July 2019!

 

To keep these Trust elephants in their natural habitat, we are continuing to fundraise whenever we can. Of course, this is always an opportunity to have fun! In May, we held a week-long event - A Day In the Life of A Karen Villager. Volunteers at GVI Chiang Mai were split into teams and each team would have the opportunity to shadow one of the local community members in the village of Huay Pakoot. This comprised helping the farmers in the fields, as planting season is now well underway, as well as gaining hands-on experience as a mahout. We were surprised to find many villagers in the fields and it was great to help them directly with their day-to-day work. Khum Suk’s young mahout, Wynn, gave volunteers a masterclass in bushcraft skills. Both experiences combined, gave us further insight into Karen culture and an opportunity to learn more about the villagers that we partner with for this project. 

 

We are now planning our next fundraiser, which will take place on the weekend of the 20/21 July 2019. In what is becoming an annual tradition, we are challenging ourselves to walk 57km to Mae Chaem. This is the traditional route elephants and their mahouts would have walked when travelling from Huay Pakoot. Split over two days, we will be camping on the Saturday night before reaching our goal on Sunday. We are looking forward to beating our previous fundraising achievement and working together to go the distance!

 

And finally, we are delighted to share that former NSP (National Scholarship Program) participant, Su, has now graduated from the program. Su has now moved onto a full time staff role with us as a Community Liaison! She is an essential part of our team here - teaching the volunteers the language Pakinyaw, and assisting us in teaching English at the school. She is a huge hit with our volunteers too and has a very good sense of humour! The NSP program allows local people to learn more about our project whilst improving their English, giving them future opportunities to take an active role in running this project. They are funded entirely through donations, and are a critical component of the work that we do.

 

Whether its elephants or people, the GVI Trust works to bring them together to benefit both. With the birth of Kah Moon’s daughter, a new life has begun. With your support, we can renew our efforts to ensure that this life, and the lives of as many Asian Elephants as possible, are positively impacted by their long-lasting relationship with humans.

 

With Gratitude

 

GVI Chiang Mai

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Dear Supporters,

As the chilly mornings and evenings of the Thai cold season start to thaw, we begin to reflect on what we have achieved in the first few months of 2019. From helping to fund one of the village elephants to go to an elephant hospital, to attempting to break world records, to hiring a new scholar as part of the NSP (National Scholarship Program), we have seen that the bond we have built with the local community through this project is strong and long-lasting. This gives us renewed confidence about the long-term goals of the project.

With the changing of the seasons, our GVI Trust elephants, Khum Suk, Sah Jah and Lulu have been moved frequently by their mahouts. They now all reside in the conservation forest, which is a protected area about a 1 to 1 ½ hour walk from our base. When we go to see them now, we are likely to encounter any number of village elephants as a number of them are in this area. It is exciting for us to not only see our GVI Trust elephants in a new location almost every day, but to also not know what other elephants may be just around the corner! It is also exciting for our elephants, as Sah Jah may meet up with her son, Mario, Khum Suk may see her daughter, Thom Kham, or Lulu may find herself playing with cousin, Sunti

It is thanks to your help that Khum Suk, Sah Jah and Lulu continue to enjoy their days in their natural habitat. While fundraising to keep these elephants in the forests around Huay Pakoot is an important priority for us, it is also an opportunity to have fun! In January, we held a day of breaking world records. From hula hoop and leapfrog races, to eating contests, to toilet roll stacking, to the longest ping-pong rally, weird and silly challenges comprised the day; even our mahouts joined in with a bamboo cup crafting race! While we did not break any world records, we did establish ones for our project, of which we are very proud; we are now challenging others to break them! The whole event was streamed on Facebook Live and you can still catch-up on the day’s events on the GVI Chiang Mai Facebook page. We raised a good amount of money for the GVI Trust and had great fun doing so!

A portion of the money we fundraise is allocated to an emergency fund, in case a village elephant needs to visit the vet or an elephant hospital with their mahout. It is, of course, very expensive to transport a creature so large, especially for a small, remote community in the mountains of northern Thailand! When Khum Suk’s daughter and Lulu’s mother, Kha Moon, recently became unwell due to a blockage in her gut, the GVI Trust was at the ready to fund her transport to the hospital. Thanks to all of you, Kha Moon is now safe and well back in the forests around Huay Pakoot. Both Kha Moon’s mother and daughter were delighted to see her return!

Not all of the money that the GVI Trust receives goes just towards our elephants; it also allows us to up-skill local community members through the NSP (National Scholarship Program). Our Community Liaisons Dee and Don have been a real success story for the program, as having graduated, they are now an integral link between us and the village. They are taking on new responsibilities within the project regularly, from Dee leading hikes out to see the elephants, to Don leading our garden project; they are an immeasurable asset to us. It is therefore, with great excitement, that we can announce that a new scholar has joined us on the NSP, Su! Su is now with us full-time for three months and will focus on our community activities. With an impressive level of English already and being able to speak four languages (including Mandarin), she is a very talented individual, who we are delighted to be working with as our first female scholar! We are certain that she will be another success story for the NSP and our project.

 

As ever, we are continually reminded of the importance of this project. Without the work that we do and your critical support, these elephants would not be able to enjoy the life they so desperately deserve. When they’re sick, we can help; when their mahouts need new equipment, we can help; when the villagers want to learn new skills, we can help. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of the elephants and the local community.

Let’s keep this going throughout 2019!

With Gratitude, 

GVI Chiang Mai 

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Organization Information

Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
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Project Leader:
Daniel Sitarenios
Exeter, Devon United Kingdom
$79,241 raised of $90,000 goal
 
2,001 donations
$10,759 to go
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