Overview of projects supported
The Asian Elephant Foundation distributes funds to various projects and organizations in the 13 range countries that are solely dedicated to the wellbeing and conservation of the Asian Elephant, and ultimately to saving them from extinction. The Asian Elephant Foundation aims to reach this goal by focusing on:
- Awareness and Education
- Solutions for the human-elephant conflict
- Health and wellbeing of the Asian elephants
That is why The Asian Elephant Foundation currently supports the following projects:
1. Awareness and Education
* TAEF Information Center, Thailand/Asia
* ‘Education packages for children of Hasselt (Belgium), Ede
(Holland), Orange County (USA), Trier (Germany), City of Luxemburg, and 11
cities in the United Kingdom
* Elephant Conservation Network (ECN), Thailand
2. Human-elephant conflict
* Manas National Park, India
* Wildlife Conservation Agency (WCA), Sri Lanka
* Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC), Myanmar
* Project Sabah (Kinabatangan), Malaysia
3. Health and Wellbeing
* Soraida Salwala's Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE), Thailand
* ElephantAsia, Laos
* Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), Myanmar
On the following pages you will find detailed information about all of these projects.
Awareness and Education
The Asian Elephant Foundation Information Centre, Thailand/Asia
The Asian Elephant Foundation Information Centre is located in the Elephant Parade House in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At the turn of the 20th century there were said to be 20,000 Asian elephants in and around Chiang Mai alone. As of today, there are just some 5,000 elephants left in the whole country of Thailand, and only 2,000 to 3,000 of those live in the wild. Thus today, sadly, being in Chiang Mai can feel like being in the ‘eye of the hurricane’ of the decline of the elephant population for some elephant lovers…
Fortunately, many good things also happen for the elephants in and around the surroundings of Chiang Mai – The Asian Elephant Foundation Information Centre, managed by Ms. Carmen Rademaker, works on making tourists and tourist organizations aware of the need to support the elephants by informing the public and enabling them to get to know the elephants in a responsible manner. Carmen gives lectures for groups, guides tourists to a selection of elephant camps, creates tailor-made trips for tour operators, develops educational materials, and manages the TAEF network. This dedicated work enables our always being up-to-date regarding problems and solutions for Asian elephants, and thus helping the TAEF Board make the best possible choices in selecting applications
Ms. Carmen Rademaker discusses possibilities and opportunities with Dr. Taweepoke Angkawanish (Head of Hospital of the National Elephant Institute) and one of his colleagues.
TAEF’s child education program
The children of today are the tourists and policy makers of tomorrow. And they are still very open to learn and change their behavior, which is why The Asian Elephant Foundation very strongly believes in making children of all ages from all over the world aware of the situation of the Asian elephant. The plight of the elephant can be used as a playful, yet powerful tool that illustrates the children’s own impact on developments like deforestation and what they themselves can do to help save the elephants.
Started in Hasselt (Belgium) in September 2012 with over 1,000 children, we now run the education package parallel to the ‘Elephant Parade: The National Tour, Presented by intu’. Tours will visit11 UK cities during the second half of 2013 and first half of 2014. They will also see over 2,000 children in Orange County, California (USA) participating, as well as many more in the second half of 2013 in Ede (Holland), Trier (Germany), and the City of Luxemburg.
The Asian Elephant Foundation had experts developing a range of tutorial materials, like a 25 page exercise book, an ‘Explanation for Teachers’ that makes clear for every country how the education package fits into their national (governmental) school programs, coloring sheets so children can make their own designs for decorated Elephant Parade statues, art boxes with blank statues, paint and brushes, a digital ‘facts & figures quiz’, and an ‘elephants’ sounds quiz’. All of these materials are optional, and are custom tailored ‘modular packages’ based on location.
Both children and teachers are often very enthusiastic about the program. Some quotes:
‘Just wanted to drop u a note – my kids are LOVING this. So engaging! I even had a girl go home, do extra research, and write a report on the injured elephant Mosha. :-) Yay!’ (Katrine, teacher in Capistrano Unified School District, California)
‘I just received a phone call from a teacher at Bathgate Elementary School who wanted to let me know how she spent the entire day on the Asian elephant subject and materials and how the students LOVED it and really got into the information. She bypassed the school system and was able to get 120 minutes on the Internet so the kids were able to watch videos and numerous clips. Ms. Horton wanted to know if they could do these studies again next year.’ (Judy Bullockus, TAEF school program coordinator, Orange County)
Elephant Conservation Network (ECN), Thailand
Thailand is a hub for illegally traded elephants and ivory, facilitated by loopholes in Thai law. Improvements to the law would provide the legal instruments needed to improve the conservation/management of wild and captive elephants, and the curtailing of the ivory trade in Thailand. Current weaknesses in Thai elephant laws facilitate illegal trade and allow neglectful/cruel treatment of elephants in captivity. Improvements to these laws would help the species survive in the wild and improve the elephant welfare in captivity. Proposed law changes in recent years were poorly informed and inadequately supported – drafts were shared with few people and were not widely available in English or Thai. Any new law, or changes to existing laws, must be drafted with input from key stakeholders/stakeholder groups, because only if revisions are broadly acceptable to everyone will they get approved. ECN’s current project will enable all future discussions on revisions to the law to be comprehensive and well informed. The project aim is to provide an authoritative information tool, in both English and Thai, which serves as a comprehensive guide to the history, administration, and problems in existing and proposed Thai elephant laws, including a survey of the interests/concerns of major stakeholders in Thailand. The Guide will accomplish the following objectives:
1. Laws/regulations governing elephants documented/discussed
2. Administration of laws explained, describing responsible agencies
3. History/outcome of past attempts to modify laws documented/analyzed
4. Interests/concerns of GO, NGO, and private sector stakeholders recorded
5. Opportunities/mechanisms identified for increased inter-agency cooperation
6. Project findings shared nationally and globally with all concerned stakeholders
The main author of this book will be Mr. Richard Lair, the world-renowned elephant expert, living in Thailand for over 30 years now. Mr. Lair is also author of the famous book on Asian elephants ‘Gone Astray’.
Mr. Richard Lair, world-renowned elephant expert.
Manas National Park, India
Presently, the remaining Asian elephants in the wild are distributed across 13 countries. Habitat loss and degradation by various activities like human encroachment and settlement, rail lines, and national highways, for example, are widely recognized as the primary threats to the survival of the wild Asian elephant
Habitat fragmentation leaves the Asian elephant population in several unconnected areas in Assam (India). In the present scenario, it is difficult to maintain sufficient contiguous elephant habitat. The knowledge of different elephant populations, the forest corridors which facilitate the gene flow, the populations’ genetic structure, and the distinctiveness of populations are important for the conservation of Assam’s Asian elephants. This is why Manas National Park is conducting a survey on the distribution of free-ranging elephants in the north-east of India. The results of this survey are expected to help the Indian government with the management of elephant populations, including establishing corridors where they are most needed.
Habitat loss by human encroachment.
Wildlife Conservation Agency (WCA), Sri Lanka
This is another project looking for ways to minimize the human-elephant conflict, simultaneously working to ensure the protection of elephants, human lives, and property. The project is aiming at making the general public aware of the human-elephant conflict and the actions possible for mitigation or resolution. In order to reach these goals, four discussion forums are conducted in different parts of the country to facilitate communication and develop practical and enhancing methods to deal with this problem. At the same time, workshops are set up where knowledge is shared with government authorities, and active workgroups discuss finding the best solutions to the human-elephant conflict while considering human rights and conservation of the environment as well.
Victims of the human-elephant conflict.
Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC), Myanmar
This project supports the participation of local communities in the protection of Asian elephants and other globally threatened wildlife in and around the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary (RYES). It supports the negotiation of a new incentive agreement that incorporates the results and feedback from previous agreements. Furthermore, it trains the local ethnic Chin people and RYES staff in surveying elephants, and supports the participation of villagers from three communities in joint patrols with RYES staff. Additionally, the project backs both anti-wildlife trade and human-elephant conflict mitigation by testing innovative and locally-appropriate solutions.
The project has been active during the past five years, negotiating incentive agreements with the Chin ethnic minority community of 110 people living south of RYES – a sanctuary which has an estimated wildlife population of 150 elephants, Myanmar’s second largest elephant range. The Chin migrated here between 2002 and 2003 from northern Rakhine Yoma, and now pose a major threat to RYES. In addition to the Chin community, the project will negotiate agreements with two more communities, totaling another 150 people who are plantation laborers of mixed Chin-Burmese ethnicity. The people are landless, and having seen the benefits of previous phases of this project, are keen to participate. The major incentives are rice supplements, the establishment of government-recognized forest plantations, the sustenance of children’s education, and water supply. The local Forest Department has promised to allocate the forest land and issue tenure certificates. The aim of the project is to continue to enhance the effectiveness of community-based elephant conservation in the southern Rakhine Yoma.
Community engagement meeting, Bawdi, RYES, March 2012.
Project Sabah (Kinabatangan), Malaysia
The entire proceeds from the statue His Royal Highness, the Prince Consort of Denmark made for the Elephant Parade in Copenhagen, covering an amount of € 25,000, was donated to a project in Sabah (Kinabatangan), Malaysia. The main goal of this project is to manage human-elephant conflicts in palm oil plantations in the Central Sabah Managed Elephant Range. To achieve this goal, the project focuses on three objectives:
1. To rescue and translocate elephants from palm oil plantations to the Central Sabah
Managed Elephant Range
2. To set up satellite collars on the translocated elephants to understand the movements and migratory patterns of these individuals within and outside the plantation areas
3. To develop and implement elephant mitigation guidelines for the palm oil plantations
The outcome will definitely contribute to elephant welfare and provide alternatives for elephants caught within the boundaries of palm oil plantations. Furthermore, there will be a better understanding of elephant movements and migratory patterns leading to better population management as well as land management. In addition, it will be possible to identify elephant corridors within the mosaic landscape of agricultural and forest land. In this way, the project management can offer migration routes within the palm oil estates, which can be converted into elephant corridors and therefore contribute to the conservation of the species. Last but not least, public awareness about the conservation of the Bornean elephant and the issue of human- elephant conflict will be increased.
The human-elephant conflict in Malaysia makes the news.
Health and Wellbeing
Soraida Salwala's Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE), Thailand
In 1993, Soraida Salwala founded the first Elephant Hospital in the world, located in Lampang (Thailand). Her foundation, Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE), nurtures elephants that have been injured by stepping on landmines, in traffic accidents, or that are sick, or have been abused by humans. With her team of 15 people, Soraida has treated over 3,000 elephants since the start of her hospital: “We have to protect them from all kinds of danger and the elephants need to be taken care of, sometimes for the rest of their lives”.
Soraida is very happy with the support of Elephant Parade: “Without Elephant Parade, I don't think our elephants would survive.”
FAE has united with ‘Mobile Vet Projects’ to help sick and injured elephants from all regions of Thailand and take care of expecting mothers. In December 2011, The Asian Elephant Foundation made funds available to buy a new vehicle to help their many patients from the hospital, mostly in the northern region. In addition, Elephant Parade structurally supports the Elephant Hospital with a yearly sum of 1,000,000 Thai baht (€ 25,000), enabling FAE to guarantee sustained care for the elephants.
Mosha, the baby elephant that inspired Marc and Mike Spits to found Elephant Parade and the Asian Elephant Foundation.
The Mobile Elephant Clinic team from Friends of the Asian Elephant in front of the truck donated by TAEF. From left to right: Somchai Thikam, Dr. Cruetong Kayan, Dr. Preecha Phuangkum DVM, Jarun Wangpo and Preeda Bundit.
In Laos there are probably less than 500 Asian elephants left. In cooperation with the Lao National Animal Health Centre, ElephantAsia implements free veterinary treatment via their mobile veterinary units for elephants suffering from illness or injury. These Mobile Elephant Clinics are especially adapted for the treatment of elephants in remote areas, and are used to visit logging sites, tourism centers, and villages where elephants are employed. They also provide advice to mahouts on basic care and medicine. The “Lao Captive Elephant Care and Management Program” mobile veterinary units carry out approximately 20 national field missions per annum, with an additional 15-20 emergency missions within the same timeframe. To date, the units have undertaken well over 1,000 veterinary checks.
A Mobile Elephant Clinic team tends to elephants in Laos.
Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), Myanmar
Myanmar (formerly Burma) still has the world’s second largest elephant population with between 5,000 to 6,000 elephants (India probably has between 20,000 and 25,000). MTE alone owns over 2,800 captive elephants. Some 2,500 of those elephants are working in the logging industry, being used to carry baggage, and doing transport for MTE. Last year, The Asian Elephant Foundation donated a fully-equipped Mobile Elephant Clinic to the elephant doctors of MTE and set up an exchange program with some of their colleagues in Thailand to further improve their knowledge of elephant health care. As logging with elephants is still allowed in Myanmar, keeping a domesticated elephant in good shape not only improves the individual elephant’s wellbeing, but also prevents a wild elephant from being captured.
In early March 2013, TAEF board member Bjarne Clausen visited MTE and handed over a second Mobile Elephant Clinic, so now two teams of doctors can cover the whole country helping the elephants.
TAEF is also investigating the possibilities for supporting MTE in setting up an elephant hospital, a sanctuary, and an orphanage for baby elephants. Over the next few years, MTE will reduce logging activities, and we are told that the Forest Department will send the surplus of elephants back into the wild – a procedure which is very complicated for elephants, and will require a lot of preparation and expertise to be done successfully. TAEF is excited to be part of these positive developments, thus helping to paint a brighter future for the Myanmar elephants.
The new Mobile Elephant Clinic presented to the elephants and mahouts of MTE, March 2013.