Animals
 Thailand
Project #6539

Alternative Livelihoods & Elephant Rescue Thailand

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust
Elephant masks in English class
Elephant masks in English class

Dear Supporters, 

As well as caring for the elephants by keeping them living free in the forest, this project also aims to provide a sustainable, alternative livelihood to the mahouts and the community that we live in.

One of our main goals for GVI Chiang Mai is to empower the community to take over and run their own sustainable volunteer project, it is important that they have a good level of English. This will allow members of the community to communicate effectively with volunteers and tourists.

GVI staff and volunteers constantly teach at the local school, as well as run informal lessons in many homestays around the village; with the intention of providing, at least, a basic knowledge of English to the majority of the community.

Nicki, our community coordinator, has brought an increased enthusiasm into the teaching side of the project. With some extra organisation, we now have an extra class added to our teaching schedule- a kindergarten class to go along with grades 1-6 that we already teach English to at the school.

Being able to start English lessons with children at a younger age will aid them in the future, hopefully allowing them to be leaders in their community, with the sustainable tourism business increasing in their local area. It also allows the volunteers to get some great social time with the cutest kids in the village.

Our constant work within the community has already shown results, with many of our mahouts already being able to interact, in English, with the volunteers while hiking with the elephants. Many other villagers also enjoy testing out their English skills over dinner, or while walking around the village.

We are always looking to increase our work within the community, teaching being one of our priorities. With the consistent efforts and enthusiasm of staff and volunteers, we have no doubt that we will attain our aim of providing this village with the skills it needs to go from strength to strength in the future.

Thank you for your continued support.

With Gratitude,

The GVI Chiang Mai Team.

 

We love our time with the children!
We love our time with the children!

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Observations for our Movement Data project
Observations for our Movement Data project

Dear Supporter,

The collection of scientific data is a vital part of the work we do at GVI Chiang Mai, and we are constantly seeking ways to improve and develop our projects. 

In July this year, our team decided to make some changes to the research projects to ensure we are always searching for ways to develop and improve them. We created a set of data known around the hub as Movement Data. This data set was designed to give both volunteers and staff a broader understanding of the social interactions and behaviours of our elephants.

Prior to this, we had been collecting very specific data on the touches between elephants and their vocalisations. Since we had a year’s worth of data on these aspects that was ready for analysis, we decided to look for new avenues to pursue.

In came the Movement Data. We gave volunteers a list of 10 behaviours we wanted them to record. Some of the observations we wanted them to focus on included:

  • touches from the trunk of one elephant to the mouth of another
  • displacement feeding. This is where one elephant moves another elephant out of the way to feed
  • and which elephants the juveniles were spending most time with.

These lists were produced based upon both the current literature on elephant behaviour, and the extensive experience of staff and interns with our elephants. We gave space for the data collectors to include any other interactions they thought noteworthy.

After two months of data collection our intern, Danielle, analysed the data. While at this point the data was still fairly limited, some key trends were already starting to appear. The main trend was that of the presence of allomothering. Allomothering is when an adult that is not the mother performs the duties of a mother, thus assisting with the care of young.

Having gotten these early results, we decided to once again revamp our data collection to focus more on these aspects. The target behaviours now include which elephant baby Wan Mai seeks comfort in and who the young elephant is imitating and learning from.

After discussions with a leading external researcher based at Bangkok University, we are also trying to assess the use of smell in the elephants decision on which direction to move through the forest. This data set is designed to be fluid and so far has been very successful at allowing us to see behavioural trends we might have otherwise missed.

We hope that in the future we can use these insights to create more specific studies that will be able to add to the global scientific knowledge on Asian Elephants. 

Thank you for your continued support of us and our elephants!

With Gratitude, 

GVI Chaing Mai

The elephants interacting
The elephants interacting

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Our 3 generations of elephants enjoying the rain
Our 3 generations of elephants enjoying the rain

Dear Supporter, 

Your donations continue to support the elephants so that they can remain living a natural lifestyle in the forested area around Huay Pakoot. By allowing the elephants to act as naturally as possible, we are providing a model for ethical elephant tourism. The presence of these elephants and the tourists they attract in the village gives a great source of alternative income for the local people. In the coming months, we are hoping to have enough funds to support more elephants to live in the forest.

In the last six months, Khum Suk has become a grandmother. The maintenance of this funding allows her to continue help her daughter Kha Moon in the raising of the new calf, Wan Mai. Khum Suk and Wan Mai have a very close relationship, and it is clear that Khum Suk is not only enjoying her new role but providing invaluable support for Kha Moon.

Sah Jah and Mario have joined together in recent months with two of our other adult elephants. This is giving Mario the opportunity to learn natural habits, such as foraging techniques, from Sah Jah and the other elephants. The close relationship between all elephants in this herd shows that they are relaxed and happy in the forest.

With all of the elephant activity in the forest, we have also had to access and monitor the impact that they are having on the biodiversity. Recently one of our staff members, Heather, presented some of our findings at the International Ornithological Congress of South East Asia. The data that Heather presented examines the effects that our elephants may be having on the forest by studying the species that we are finding on our walks in the forest. Your donations made it possible for us to be included in this conference, where we won first place for 'Best Poster Presentation' and received advice and guidance from experienced ornithologists on how to develop our research. 

Thank you for your continued support!

With Gratitude, 

GVI-Thailand

 

 

Heather winning the award for the best poster
Heather winning the award for the best poster
Sah Jah and Mario bonding
Sah Jah and Mario bonding

Links:

Baby Wan-Mai with his mom and grandmother
Baby Wan-Mai with his mom and grandmother

Dear Supporter,

GVI’s Asian Elephant reintroduction program here In Chiang Mai Thailand welcomed a new addition this month. Very early on the 17th of February they welcomed a successfully born new male calf to their project. With now 3 generations of elephants living together on the project, having previously been separated to work in the tourist industry this a very big success for the project. Also with the prospect of recording important behavioral data on the infant and family group together, the project is a buzz.

With the main aim of the project to bring as many captive elephants back to a natural environment as possible, having a new infant born on the project is a huge achievement for GVI. Without the project working in conjunction with the local community of Huay Pakoot, this baby male Asian elephant would have more than likely began life in a tourist camp. This would be both unnatural for the infant and also much more stressful for his mother.

So far the young male has had a great start to life with 24 hour care from his mother, as well as the watchful eye of his mahout who spends every night since his birth sleeping in the forest with the elephant family. After 48 hours to build up his strength, the infant along with his family moved from the birth site to an ideal area of the forest with great food and water supplies. This is essential to moms production of milk which the young male will be completely dependent on for the first year of his life. As an extra precaution, a vet was also called to come out and give both mother and son a thorough health check. With GVI staff and Mahouts present as much information was gathered as possible to ensure the highest level of care will be given to the new addition as possible. The health check was very successful for both mom and son.

 With such limited scientific and behavioral data collected on Asian elephants, the opportunity to study this new infant and his progression is hugely exciting. Studying his behaviors, as well as that of the adults in his family group individually and as a herd as a whole may unearth as yet unknown knowledge to science. 

It’s safe to say that the near future is a very exciting prospect for both current GVI personnel and future volunteers to witness this young male grow and develop.

Thank you for your continued support.

All the best

GVI Chiang Mai

Our awesome hoodies!
Our awesome hoodies!

Dear Supporter,

During January, the GVI Chiang Mai hub launched a new fundraising project. The hub designed hoodies and cookbooks to be sold to volunteers as a way to raise extra funds for the project. Currently, three out of the nine elephants are funded through the Charitable Trust and any extra money raised will help keep them in the Chiang Mai forests where they belong. The extra funds raised will also go towards covering some of the expenses for the new base hut that is currently under construction.

Karen Cookbook

The cookbook has been an ongoing project created over some months by different interns and long- term volunteers. Creating it involved talking with various villagers about traditional Karen food and its preparation, ingredients, and cooking methods. Recipes included basic day-to-day vegetarian and meat dishes to ceremonial dishes. The book also talks about cooking very traditionally in the forest, going into detail about the methods the local community use to prepare their food. The idea of offering the book to volunteers is to give them a memento to take home and use during and after their time on the project.

Save the Asian Elephant Hoodies

Three different hoodies were designed by a staff member on the project. Having been a previous volunteer on the GVI South Africa Limpopo project and seen the success of hoodies designed by another volunteer, he decided to attempt the same feet at GVI Chiang Mai. After a basic design was completed, volunteers were able to vote for their favourite quotes. Once the votes narrowed down the options to a final three, the designs were finalised and the first order of 75 hoodies was placed. 

Both initiatives have gone well, with nearly every volunteer purchasing a hoodie or a cookbook. With an interest being shown over Facebook and our other social media platforms, we are looking into offering the products on a wider scale in the next couple of months. It is hoped that together with our two annual large fundraising events, it will help the project to have a constant stream of funds to help the project grow, evolve and eventually have a greater impact on the conservation of these amazing creatures.

Thank you for your continued support.

All the best

GVI Chiang Mai

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Organization Information

Global Vision International Charitable Trust

Location: Exeter, Devon - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​www.gvi.org
Project Leader:
Kate Robey
Exeter, Devon United Kingdom