My views of the elephant project
This is an excerpt taken from a presentation given by Daina, a short-term intern, at the end of her stay. Any grammatical or spelling errors can be attributed to Daina coming to us from Lithuania, although we felt that her spoken English was much better than she gave herself credit!
Organization of daily routines
The organization of daily routine in base hut and home stays was very interesting experience for me. It’s an example of how things can be managed with constantly changing volunteers. I like the idea with personal hooks and bags and other belongings with the volunteer name on them. There are a lot of daily activities after the morning hikes that prevent people from getting bored. They get a possibility to have a closer look into village life (for ex. changing dinner location, cooking classes). The assigning of person for daily base cleaning activities prevents everybody from running to wash his own dishes and creating a mess. It seems that people quickly learn to maintain the order with some minor misunderstandings.
Elephant and biodiversity hikes
I wish very much that all these efforts by staff and volunteers of data gathering on the hikes are not only the good experience of learning about elephants’ behaviour or richness and beauty of species in this particular area, but also builds the solid data base, which can be used for further studies and scientific purposes, shared to the world through the books and etc.
Personally for me hikes are really physically demanding, but I’ve realized that I learn more and more and it pushes me forward. There’s so much to do and to see. Small species are so sensible to the air changes, time of day, place (lower or upper), not talking about seasonal changes.
As about elephants – it was my first time when I saw them free in the nature and had possibility to feed, touch and observe so close. They are incredibly cute and calm giants. Calves are childish, playful and incredibly funny. I’ve got a lot of information here. The most sensible thing that I’ve learned about them was their vulnerability to childhood traumas, which causes unpredictable later behaviour as well as huge influence of older herd members to young ones.
Impact on elephant conservation
I think it’s very important for local people to understand the need for conservation and value their national treasure – elephants. It should be clear: if the elephants become extinct as a species, the country will lose much more in many aspects: cultural, historical as well as attraction for tourists. The efforts of abroad organizations are very welcome, but cannot last forever as they come and go. Only awareness of locals can change the situation. I was so glad to hear that the initiative for conservation came from the locals. GVI is a great teacher or mediator, which helps to bring this initiative into practical stage, helps the wishes meet possibilities.
I also found out that vision of staff and villagers sometimes differ (for ex. on young elephant training or on hunting of other endangered species), but changes, especially ones related to traditions, have a very slow pace.
I believe that such initiatives will be spread around other regions of Thailand by this good start.
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