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:
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!
GVI Chaing Mai
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!
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
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.
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
Merry Christmas from everyone at GVI Huay Pakoot and the GVI Charitable Trust
What a year for our elephants! Thanks to your support and donations, our three elephants, Mae Sah Jah, Khum Suk and Mario have thrived in the forest. These three elephants have been taken from the tourism industry and are now able to live their lives in the forest surrounding the village of Huay Pakoot, thanks to you. The funding from GVI Charitable Trust directly provides these three elephants with an opportunity to escape the tourist industry and live their lives as elephants should, roaming and foraging in the forest.
We also managed to start on the elephant clinic this year, as well as providing more Mahouts with basic Elephant first aid training, in memory on Songkran.
We have also seen our Biodiversity Assessment Surveys thrive! 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.
We sincerely hope, with your support, that this project continues to grow into 2015. The more funds we can bring in, the more elephants we can rescue from horrific circumstances and reintroduce back into a natural habitat, so thank you!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
All the best
GVI Charitable Trust
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