Monday, January 21, 2013

GTAEF and Bounjan

Recently the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) welcomed a new elephant to the camp: Bounjan. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to write a little about the organization and why TEI have chosen to work with them in particular. 

GTAEF was founded in order to provide a safe haven for abused elephants or those who cannot work. Many of the elephants have come from the streets of the larger cities in Thailand, where they were forced to beg for food and money in busy and dangerous situations. The foundation rescued them from this often traumatic situation and offered the elephants and mahouts (elephant caretakers) a better life here in the north of Thailand. 

Once they arrive at the Anantara Resort where the foundation is based, the elephants are able live in natural jungle habitat, with other elephants around and an ethical work situation; working only a limited number of hours a day and without doing any ‘tricks’ that are unnatural or harmful to the elephants. As well as this the mahouts are welcome to bring their families to live here to and are provided with housing, health care and education. We would all prefer that elephants were only found in the wild, but given that this is not that case and that these are some of the best kept elephants in Thailand, TEI chose to use this population to study. We hope that this will ultimately help their wild counterparts by increasing our understanding of the species as a whole. 

As well as providing all this care for the 25 elephants here, the foundation supports a number of other conservation initiatives. This ensures that as well as increasing the welfare of these few elephants, the foundation also contributes to the bigger picture of elephant conservation in Asia which is essential to save the species. 

GTAEF vet checks that Boujan is healthy

Bounjan arrived on the 30th November, causing a lot of rumbling commotion amongst the other elephants! She has come from a trekking camp near Chiang Mai. She’s 43 years old and has obviously done a lot of trekking in her time but is otherwise healthy and settling in well. We look forward to spending more time with her and we hope that she will enjoy a more relaxed pace of life here at GTAEF.