Board of Trustees
The Asian Elephant Foundation (TAEF) was founded in 2010 by Marc Spits, who started the Elephant Parade in 2006 together with his son Mike.
TAEF raises funds for the wellbeing and conservation of the Asian elephant, and a second foundation ‘Help the Asian Elephant’ (HTAE) distributes these funds.
Members of the Board of Trustees of The Asian Elephant Foundation are:
- President of the Board of Trustees: Mr. Wim Dröge
- Director of TAEF, secretary-treasurer: Mr. Remand Houben
Members of the Board of Help the Asian Elephant are:
- President: Mr. Wim Dröge
- Board member Mr. Bjarne Clausen from Denmark, internationally renowned expert in the field of elephant conservation.
- Board member and secretary-treasurer: Mr. Remand Houben
In this interview, Bjarne Clausen, internationally renowned expert in the field of elephant conservation and member of the Board of Trustees of the Asian Elephant Foundation, shares his vision on Asian elephant conservation.
Mr. Clausen, elephants have been playing a large part in your life for years now. What is so special about these animals, in your opinion?
“Oh, everything! The Asian elephant is truly unique as a creature. In fact, I believe all species are unique, but the elephant stands out because of his magnificent and majestic quality. Moreover, elephants are special because they are by far the biggest animals man have domesticated.”
What's your passion for the Asian elephant?
“I do not have a special fascination for the Asian elephant, but in my mind this species share the room with other magnificent creatures, which - due to human activity - are threatened beyond dignity. The various species should have the right to share the planet with humans, and as humans it is our duty to ensure this right. We have to keep our planet balanced, secure its richness.”
Tell us about your working experience with this endangered species? What was it like?
“To be frank, working with endangered species is often quite depressing... all over the world, biodiversity as well as numbers are decreasing due to human activity.
As conservationists, we learn to be happy about our small victories and learn to continue our work even when we experience big defeats. In relation to your specific question it is fascinating to work with a species that is so big in size that it cannot be controlled by force, but only by cooperation between man and elephant.”
What do you think is the biggest threat to the Asian elephant?
“The biggest threat for elephants in the wild is the human pressure on their habitat, and the fragmentation of elephant populations that is caused by this pressure.”
What does The Asian Elephant Foundation do for the Asian elephant?
“The funds come from Elephant Parade. It is the Foundation’s goal to use these funds in a way that contributes to the improvement of the living conditions and wellbeing of the Asian elephant.
I have worked in wildlife research and -management for 45 years and of within these last 13 years I’ve been working with the Asian elephant. Over the years I have gained much experience and developed an international network, that will help me fulfill my role as an member of the Board of Trustees of The Asian Elephant Foundation.”
How does the Board of Trustees decide which elephant projects are in need of help?
“Of course, we can rely on our years of experience within the field of conservation. But we also turn to others for guidance, for example by asking for advice among international organizations involved in elephant conservation. The single most important thing is land: land where the Asian elephant can live in peace. Each elephant needs a few square miles of living space: in other words, the space that is needed has to be of considerable size. Also, the people that live on the borders of these pieces of land have to accept and respect the rights of the elephants living there.”