Animals
 Thailand
Project #6539

Alternative Livelihoods & Elephant Rescue Thailand

by Global Vision International Charitable Trust
Vetted
Dee Dee
Dee Dee

Dear Supporters, 

The main goal, of this project, is to provide the village of Huay Pakoot with an alternative income to the current method of renting their elephants to tourist camps. One of the main incomes that GVI provides for this village is paying the elephant owners to keep their elephant in the surrounding forest. In March, we added two more elephants to its current herd in Huay Pakoot; bringing the total number of elephants up to 8.

The tourist industry in Thailand has put a strain on the elephant population of this country. It used to be the case that elephants were captured from the wild, often at a young age, and then trained to do tricks or to give rides. Although this practice may still happen in some areas, many elephant owners/camps obtain more elephants through their current elephants giving birth. These elephants born into captivity are very unlikely to ever see the wild. So the kind of camp/sanctuary these elephants are born into is the determining factor in whether they will have a decent life or not.

The Karen hill tribe village of Huay Pakoot owns around 60 elephants, the majority of which currently reside within tourist camps in Northern Thailand. Renting their elephants to these camps provides a good source of income for many families in the village. Although some of these camps don’t make these elephants perform tricks or undertake in saddle riding, it is the goal of GVI Chiang Mai to provide the best quality of life for the elephants as possible.

Our aims is to bring back as many elephants to the village as possible; making sure that the number of elephants in the surrounding forest of Huay Pakoot remains at a sustainable level. It is important that the number of elephants brought back to the village does not go over the carrying capacity of the surrounding forest. If more elephants, than the surrounding forest can support, are put into the forest then this will cause degradation of the local ecosystem. This would be bad for the elephants, the local biodiversity, as well as the villagers.

Our newest recruits

During the last few months, the team in Chiang Mai has been looking to increase the number of elephants here in the village (it can take a long time to negotiate terms). During the month of March, we were able to secure two more elephants; a female called Gureepoh and a male named Dee Dee. It’s great to see these elephants spend more time in the forest, where they should be. Without having to perform tricks or provide exhausting rides to tourists.

Gureepoh was placed in a heard with Khum Suk, Kha Moon, and Saja (3 older females), Lulu (a juvenile female) and Wan Mai (our baby male elephant). Gureepoh settled into the group pretty much instantly and is now able to walk in the forest and learn from the more experienced individuals on how to actually be an elephant. When Dee Dee first arrived he was kept more separated from the other elephants, this is because the mahouts wanted to make sure he was settled before introducing him; a male elephant can affect the dynamics of a herd more than a female joining the group. So safety first, especially when volunteers are in close proximity to these giants. Dee Dee, however, was extremely calm and was introduced to the others relatively soon after arriving. The current relationships between the elephants are stable and Dee Dee and Lulu seem to have become good friends!

We want to ensure that as many elephants as possible have the best, most natural, life they can. 

Thank you for your generous support, whch helps make this possible!

With Gratitude, 

GVI Chaing Mai

Gureepoh
Gureepoh

Links:

Stefan on his journey!
Stefan on his journey!

Dear Supporters, 

Recently we have been working a lot on our relationships with the village that our elephant project runs from because we work very closely with them and rely on them for a great number of things. 

The GVI interns decided to do something to give back and show our support!

Volunteers and interns who come to this project are encouraged to get involved with the community as much as possible. The interaction is also good for the villagers, helping them learn English as well as learning about different cultures from around the world.

One of our interns has taken becoming part of the culture to the next level. Stefan, who is spending 6 months in the village as a biodiversity intern, has really become part of the community since starting here. Part of the 6-month internship is to complete a group project together. This group of interns deciding to fundraise for spotlights for the school football pitch, as well as putting money towards the meditation school which is currently being built.

As part of Stefan’s contribution to the fundraising effort, he agreed to become a Buddhist Monk for a week. Practicing as a monk for a week is a common pursuit, with many Thai men doing this at least once in their lives. Along with our head mahout, Dee, Stefan underwent the induction ceremony to become a monk. Three other younger Thai men also joined Stefan and Dee in this process. Stefan’s homestay family also attended and offered to pay the donation needed to the monk/temple; indicating the string bond that Stefan has made within his host family. This was all after he had his hair, eyebrows, and beard completely shaved off!

During his week as a monk, Stefan followed the strict rules that monks abide by. He was unable to eat after midday, had to collect food donations while walking around the village barefoot, as well as several other rules which he had to follow. One of the toughest parts of his time as a monk was a 30km walk that he had to complete in order to reach a Buddha statue in another village. He completed this walk in crocs! Since this walk, he strongly advises everyone not to complete a long hike in crocs.

Stefan has truly attempted to get involved in the community as much as possible, the respect he already had around the village has increased even more. This is the first time that anyone within GVI has become a monk, but it is a testament to what a volunteer/intern can become part of while on the GVI Chiang Mai project. It’s definitely a case of the more effort one puts into their time here, the more they get out of their experience. 

The more time that GVI spends here in the village, the more that we become part of the large family that exists here. This strengthens our project and helps us in our pursuits to bring more elephants to the forest and create alternative livelihoods for locals. 

Thank you for your continued support. 

With Gratitude, 

GVI Chaing Mai

Links:

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!

Links:

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

Links:

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:

 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

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

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.