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Testimonial from

Traveling halfway across the world to work with elephants is a dream I never had until I became curious about elephants and research about them. I got more out of this experience that I ever could have imagined. Opening your eyes to the world and problems within it can be one of the most painful things you ever do, but it is more than worth it. I witnessed first-hand some of the troubles Asian Elephants face today, and at the same time I witnessed the behavior and bliss of a select few who got their lives back and were reintroduced into their natural forests. This was all thanks to Global Vision International who gave me the opportunity to volunteer in Huay Paoot. Having been a part of GVI and I feel like I have contributed to the benefit of their long term goals. Being with GVI, I was a part of many things which include teaching English up to 6th grade, helping out in nursery, participating in litter pickups all around, bio diversity studies, and perhaps the most exciting work of all was with the elephants. There are three herds of elephants consisting of 9 individuals. There are typically 3-4 hikes a week where the elephants are observed. Proximity data is collected and recorded every 5 minutes as well as any touch data; and twice a week health checks are done on each elephant. Newest to the data collection is vocalization. The data collection time spans over 2 hours which can vary from the observation time, often after data collection we would opt to stay and continue watching them. Each of the elephants are truly amazing and watching them in the forest where they should be; eating a healthy natural diet, doing as they please, and witnessing the bonds they each have with their Mahout, was all truly amazing. I am lucky to have found this volunteer opportunity. Upon my arrival I expanded my vocalization project from health checks only to each of the elephant hikes. The data collected is really interesting and does show some behavioral patterns. I hope in the future to be able to take the ecology and mind of the elephants into context to interpret the cause and meaning of each vocalization. (Note that only audible vocalizations were recorded) Because there are three separate herds I personally could never have collected all the data alone. I really learned to work with others and partially rely on them. Thanks to staff members and other volunteers we were able to collect vocalization data for each elephant hike. Analyzing all the data has been really fun as well. I am learning a lot and have been inspired to do so much more, not just in terms of research but in terms of helping around the world. All of this is just a briefing of the things that I learned while volunteering on this conservation project. Everything that I have learned I hope to be able to share, for the elephants’ sake. I did not go into detail about all the issues they face, but I plan to educate people on the issues involving Asian Elephants. I am happy to share my experience but more than anything with my presentations I would like in some way to help the elephants. I believe I can do this through becoming an ambassador for GVI and sharing the opportunity, my experience, and spreading awareness on issues that Asian Elephants face.