May 2016: Monthly Achieving Report: Inspiring Others!
It is important that the message of animal welfare is spread to as many people as possible, so that the issues facing elephants in Thailand, and around the world, becomes common knowledge. This message can be spread quicker by like-mined organisations working together to reach many more people/volunteers/tourists than one organisation could on its own. GVI Chiang Mai hope to be able to create and nurture such relationships with other elephant based organisations, tourist camps, research facilities etc. because it is through education that change can happen.
One such relationship that is starting to be built upon is that with a nearby elephant project called Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary; a project set-up by two previous GVI Chiang Mai staff members (Kerri Mac and Talia Gale) and a previous mahout (Sombat). The project is located in another Karen hill tribe called Nah Klang, about 30 minutes from the GVI project in Huay Pakoot. The project has a similar outlook to GVI Chiang Mai, whereby they encourage free ranging elephants in the forest surrounding their village, and bring in volunteers to come a spend time in the forest, watching these happy elephants go about their lives, displaying their natural behaviour. They are also working closely with the community; teaching English at the local school, and living with homestay families in the village.
This month two of our current GVI staff, Danielle Riley and Jamie O’Connell, went to visit Kerri and Talia on their project. After having a tour around the village, being introduced to local families and mahouts, and enjoying the view of elephants walking through the river from the base hut, they were able to talk about how our the projects can work together in order to benefit the communities, the volunteers, and of course the elephants. It is hoped that, by working together, the number of people knowledgeable about elephant welfare will increase, that both projects can support each other in order to continue bringing elephants back to the forest, and that other villages and/or projects will see the benefit of having their elephants in a natural environment.
It is great to see that the GVI Chiang Mai model is spreading in the area, and similar ideas being adopted by villages and projects alike. The elephant world needs to unite to be strong enough to fight the decrease in wild elephant numbers: By working together with these types of organisations/projects, hopefully we will soon see a forest full of elephants that can live happily; leaving their past of having to perform in tourist camps behind them.
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