Overview of projects supported
Projects We Support
The Asian Elephant Foundation (TAEF) distributes funds to various projects and organisations that are solely dedicated to saving the Asian Elephant from extinction.
- Awareness and Education
- Solutions to the Human-Elephant Conflict
- Health and Wellbeing of the Asian Elephant
We currently support the following projects:
1. Awareness and Education
* TAEF Information Center, Thailand
* TAEF’S Child Education Program, Worldwide
* Elephant Conservation Network (ECN), Thailand
* Elephant Conservation Centre, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC), Cambodia
* Think Elephants International (TEI), Thailand
* Elephant Conservation Awareness Programme, India
2. Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC)
* Manas National Park, India
* Wildlife Conservation Agency (WCA), Sri Lanka
* Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC), Myanmar
* Project Sabah, Malaysia
3. Health and Wellbeing
* Soraida Salwala's Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE), Thailand
* ElefantAsia, Laos
* Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), Myanmar
* Assam Forest, India
* Vesswic Elephant Health Care Program (EHCP), Indonesia
* Target Training to Asian Elephants, Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos
Awareness and Education
TAEF Information Centre, Thailand
Elephants are among the world’s most intelligent animals and display both compassion and self-awareness. They are also one of the most seriously endangered mammal species in the world. The objective of TAEF Information Centre is to raise awareness and to educate the public about the plight of the Asian elephant.
Located in the Elephant Parade House in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the centre serves as an educational hub for both residents and tourists. It offers lectures on ethical elephant tourism, creates customized trips for environmentally responsible tour operators and advises the public on what to look for when choosing an elephant camp to visit. TAEF Information Centre also manages TAEF network which is dedicated to remaining up to date with worldwide elephant news and research. This enables TAEF to make the best possible decisions in selecting which projects to support.
TAEF Director Carmen Rademaker discusses possibilities and opportunities with TAEF Advisory Board Member Dr. Taweepoke Angkawanish (Head of Hospital at the National Elephant Institute) and one of his colleagues.
‘E is for Elephant’ TAEF’s Child Education Program
“The children of today are the tourists and policy makers of tomorrow. This is why TAEF strongly believes in making children of all ages from all over the world aware of the threats facing the Asian elephant.” Carmen Rademaker, TAEF Director
Successfully implemented in Belgium in 2012, TAEF’s Child Education Program now runs parallel to Elephant Parade: The National Tour, presented by intu. Schoolchildren in both Europe and the US are learning about the threats facing the Asian elephant through a multisensory program which promotes online learning, creativity and collective responsibility. Included in the program are instructions for schools in how the education program fits into their national curriculum. Materials are tailored to the location and have proved to be hugely successful in raising awareness in both teachers and students.
‘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, 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. Ms. Horton wanted to know if they could do these studies again next year.’ (Judy Bullockus, TAEF school program coordinator, Orange County.)
In 2013, the program was specifically adapted for Yangon, Myanmar, to create an event to celebrate World Forestry Day. TAEF joined forces with the European Forest Institute (EFI Flegt), the EU Office in Myanmar, the EU Delegation in Thailand, the Myanmar authorities and the French Embassy in Myanmar (Alliance Française) to raise awareness of deforestation. Schoolchildren from 50 schools in Yangon were introduced to ways to prevent the Asian elephant from becoming extinct, with a Young Ambassador being selected to represent Yangon in a yearly seminar on elephant conservation.
Elephant Parade statues designed by the students were exhibited and auctioned off. The proceeds from the auction have been earmarked for a nursing unit where orphaned elephants or babies from mothers with no milk will be taken care of. This unit will be part of the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) elephant hospital currently under construction.
Students in Yangon, Myanmar with their elephant statue designs.
Elephant Conservation Network (ECN), Thailand
“Conservation of the elephant in Asia depends on the political will and concerted action of the Governmental agencies involved.” Charles Santiapillai, author of The Asian Elephant Conservation: A Global Strategy.
Thailand is a hub for illegally traded elephants and ivory, facilitated by loopholes in Thai law. Revisions to elephant laws are essential to the conservation and management of wild and captive elephants and in helping curtail the ivory trade in Thailand. Proposed law changes in recent years have been poorly informed, not widely available in English or Thai and thus inadequately supported.
With support from TAEF, Elephant Conservation Network (ECN) is currently working with world renowned elephant expert Richard Lair to develop an authoritative information tool in both English and Thai. This will serve as a comprehensive guide to the history, administration and problems in existing and proposed Thai elephant laws, including a survey of the interests and concerns of the major stakeholders in Thailand. The guide will document the following:
1. Current laws and regulations governing elephants.
2. Explanation of law administration.
3. Analysis of past attempts to modify laws.
4. Interests and concerns of GO, NGO, and private sector stakeholders.
5. Identified opportunities for increased inter-agency cooperation.
6. Global sharing of all project findings.
Richard Lair, world-renowned elephant expert and author of ‘Gone Astray’ – The Care and Management of the Asian Elephant in Domesticity.
Elephant Conservation Centre, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC), Cambodia
TAEF is excited to support Wildlife Alliance (WA) in raising awareness of the Asian elephant through donating funds to develop educational materials for the new Elephant Conservation Centre in Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC). The centre will provide a permanent resource for visitors to learn about how they can participate in the effort to preserve Asian elephants and their habitat.
PTWRC is currently home to five elephants, all who have been rescued from conflict situations. Known as one of the best rescue and care facilities for wildlife in Asia, PTWRC also houses Chhouk, the first elephant in Cambodia to receive a prosthetic foot. Visitors to the Elephant Conservation Centre will learn about how Chhouk was found as a baby, gravely ill after having lost a foot. Chhouk was cared for in the forest and after gaining his trust, WA transported him to PTWRC where a partnership was formed with the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics to provide Chhouk with a prosthesis. The life of this baby elephant has been transformed. Chhouk can now walk normally and has avoided any serious skeletal deformities. TAEF is delighted to have contributed to his success story.
Chhouk with his surrogate mother Lucky who adopted him shortly after his arrival at PTWRC.
Think Elephants International (TEI), Thailand
TAEF is committed to supporting Think Elephants International (TEI) in promoting the conservation of elephants and other wildlife through research and education. TEI works primarily in Thailand, studying the mind and intelligence of the endangered Asian elephant.
An elephant displaying self-awareness at TEI.
The foundation upholds the goal of making scientific research more accessible to the general public, with specific attention on teaching young students. TEI has run successful education initiatives in the United States and is now working to implement the TEI conservation education curriculum in twenty public schools in and around Bangkok. The programme will feature lessons about elephant biology, wildlife conservation, and research methods and design. The TEI team plans to carefully assess the programme’s efficacy to ensure that students are more interested in and knowledgeable about elephant conservation, more excited about possible careers in science and more critical in their thinking about environmental problems.
Elephant Conservation Awareness Programme, India
Nilgiris, Tamilnadu has the highest density of elephants in South India. The pressure on these elephants from human encroachment and habitat loss has led to an intense need to increase public awareness. TAEF funds the Elephant Conservation Awareness Programme, run by the Wildlife and Nature conservation Trust, which designs and implements campaigns for specific target groups.
Through the programme, both schoolchildren and local communities learn about elephant behaviour and the important role elephants play in the ecosystem. Awareness campaigns focusing on elephant road crossing behavior are delivered to local drivers, the dangers of high tension wire fencing and its danger to elephants are communicated to resorts bordering the Nilgiri biosphere and the role tribal leaders can play in preventing poachers from killing elephants is communicated throughout local villages.
Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC)
Manas National Park, India
“The extinction of elephants, which have survived millions of years on our planet, cannot be viewed as inevitable. What we increasingly know is that with the right interventions both to halt the poaching of elephants (and trafficking of ivory) and to enable local farmers and elephants to coexist, elephants can have a future. It is up to us to make it so.” Dr. Cristian Samper, President and CEO, Wildlife Conservation Society
Habitat loss and fragmentation is widely recognised as the primary threat to the survival of the Asian elephant in the wild. Human encroachment and settlement have disrupted traditional migratory patterns leading elephants to invade the communities that have displaced them, creating potentially dangerous Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) situations.
Elephant corridors are strips of land that allow the animals to move between areas safely, without encroaching on farmland and disrupting crops. They are essential for integrating elephant populations and increasing biodiversity, two important factors integral to the conservation of the Asian elephant. TAEF is happy to be supporting Manas National Park in 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
The Wildlife Conservation Agency, (WCA) is committed to looking for ways to minimise Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) while simultaneously working to ensure the protection of elephants, human lives and property. TAEF supports the WCA in raising awareness of HEC and the actions available to work towards a resolution for both the human and elephant population. To reach these goals, the WCA is conducting four discussion forums in different parts of the country to enable communication and discuss practical solutions to HEC. In conjunction, the WCA is facilitating workshops in order to develop active workgroups committed to developing these practical solutions while also considering human rights and conservation of the environment. All knowledge is being shared with government authorities with the understanding that solutions are more achievable if agencies and GOs work together.
Victims of HEC.
Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC), Myanmar
TAEF is passionate about supporting the work of the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary (RYES) in involving local communities in the protection of Asian elephants and other globally threatened wildlife. This TAEF funded project, which has been active since 2009, is committed to promoting community-based elephant conservation and reducing Human-Elephant Conflict HEC in the southern Rakhine Yoma through active communication and the negotiation of incentive agreements.
The Chin ethnic minority community numbers around 110 people living south of the RYES, where sanctuary is provided for 150 elephants. The Chin’s migration from northern Rakhine Yoma in 2002-2003 represents the major threat human encroachment can have to an elephant population. RYES are working with the Chin community and two more local communities of mixed Chin-Burmese ethnicity in identifying and recognising both the needs of the communities and of the elephants in the sanctuary. Communication is proving successful and participation is high, with incentive packages including rice supplements, the establishment of government-recognised forest plantations, the sustenance of children’s education and water supply. In addition, the local Forest Department has agreed to allocate the forest land and issue tenure certificates.
Training in how to survey the elephant population has been implemented for both RYES staff and the local ethnic Chin people which has resulted in successful joint patrols committed to ensuring the elephants are monitored and protected. Additionally, the project backs anti-wildlife trade by testing innovative and locally-appropriate solutions. This project is ongoing and recognises the need to incorporate results and feedback from previous agreements in order to ensure effectiveness.
Community engagement meeting, Bawdi, RYES, March 2012.
Project Sabah (Kinabatangan), Malaysia
“If one accepts that elephants are in trouble and need better management and care, and if one further accepts that we only have an unclear picture of what we are managing, it then follows that all Asian countries with elephants need an integrated form and database to track and monitor that country's elephants.” Richard Lair, Domesticated Asian Elephant Specialist and FAO Consultant
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 Project Sabah, in Kinabatangan, Malaysia. The main goal of this project was to manage Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) in palm oil plantations in the Central Sabah Managed Elephant Range. To achieve this goal, the project focused 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 trans located 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.
Achievement of these objectives has contributed greatly to elephant welfare and has provided alternatives for elephants caught within the boundaries of palm oil plantations. The documentation and analysis of elephant movement patterns has led to both improved population and land management. The identification of naturally occurring migration routes has meant land has been converted into elephant corridors, successfully contributing to the conservation of the species.
In 2014 TAEF partnered with Banrock Station to expand the success of Project Sabah from Kinabatangan to the Central Sabah Managed Elephant Range. This project is committed to collaring 10 more elephants, mapping migration routes, producing HEC mitigation guidelines and publishing the findings. TEAF is passionate about helping prevent unnecessary deaths among the declining elephant population due to HEC and is committed to working with Banrock Station to help secure the future of the Asian elephant.
Bikang the elephant after having been successfully fitted with a satellite collar.
HEC in Malaysia makes the news.
Health and Wellbeing
Soraida Salwala's Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE), Thailand
TAEF is proud to support the world’s first Elephant Hospital, founded in 1993 by Soraida Salwala in Lampang, Thailand. The foundation, Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE), nurtures elephants that have been injured by stepping on landmines, in traffic accidents, that are sick, or have been abused by humans. With her team of 15 people, Soraida has treated over 4,000 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.”
FAE is home to Mosha, the baby elephant that inspired Marc and Mike Spits to found Elephant Parade and TAEF. Mosha stepped on a landmine as a baby and was one of the first elephants in the world to be fitted with a prosthetic leg. This enables her to walk normally and prevent deformities as she is still growing. TAEF is committed to donating a yearly sum of 1,000,000 Thai baht (€25,000) to FAE enabling the hospital to provide sustained care for Mosha and other elephants in need. This funding allows FAE to collaborate with ‘Mobile Vet Projects’ to help sick and injured elephants from all over Thailand and to take care of expecting mothers. To further support this project, in December 2011, TAEF made additional funds available for the purchase of a new vehicle. TAEF’s support of FAE is ongoing.
Mosha, the baby elephant that inspired Marc and Mike Spits to found Elephant Parade and TAEF.
The Mobile Elephant Clinic team from FAE 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 less than 500 Asian elephants left. In cooperation with the Lao National Animal Health Centre, ElefantAsia uses funds donated by TAEF to offer free veterinary treatment via their mobile veterinary units for elephants suffering from illness or injury. The ‘Lao Captive Elephant Care and Management Program’ carries out approximately 20 national field missions and 15-20 emergency missions a year, using their Mobile Elephant Clinics. The clinics are specially 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. To date, the units have undertaken well over 1,000 veterinary checks. Elephants that require long term treatment are treated at the elephant hospital based in the Elephant Conservation Center, Sayaboury. There they receive free care, food and accommodation for the duration of the treatment.
The ‘Lao Captive Elephant Care and Management Program’ also implement a micro-chipping and registration campaign in order to identify all domesticated elephants in Laos. Elephant ID cards safeguard the remaining captive elephants in Laos and reduce the risk of the illegal capture and trade of wild elephants. TAEF’s support for ElefantAsia is ongoing.
A Mobile Elephant Clinic team tends to elephants in Laos.
Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), Myanmar
After India, Myanmar is home to the world’s second largest elephant population with between 5,000 to 6,000 elephants. Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) alone owns over 2,800 captive elephants, 2,500 of whom work carrying baggage, providing transport and in the logging industry. In support of MTE’S dedication to the health and wellbeing of their captive elephants, in 2011 TAEF donated a fully-equipped Mobile Elephant Clinic (MEC) to the elephant vets at MTE and established an exchange program with elephant experts in Thailand to share skills and knowledge of elephant health care. In 2013, TAEF Advisory Board Member Bjarne Clausen visited MTE to personally donate a second MEC, to further the care available for elephants in need.
TAEF is also committed to supporting MTE in setting up an elephant hospital, a sanctuary, and an elephant orphanage. Over the next few years, MTE will reduce logging activities and the Forest Department has agreed to release the surplus of elephants back into the wild. In 2014 funds were made available for the modification of MTE owned vehicles in order to facilitate the transport of the released elephants. TAEF is excited to be part of these positive developments, thus helping to paint a brighter future for the Myanmar elephants.
The new MEC presented to the elephants and mahouts of MTE, March 2013.
Assam Forest, India
There are over 1000 resident domestic elephants in the forests of Assam, India, engaged in legal logging work, anti-poaching duties and occasionally in cultural processions. To support the health and wellbeing of these elephants, TAEF has donated a fully equipped Mobile Elephant Clinic (MEC) to the Department of Environment and Forest (KAAC). The first of its kind in the region, the MEC will provide diagnosis, treatment and health monitoring. Education on health promotion will be offered and research carried out into the disease, injury and ailment patterns of the trained elephants in Assam in order to develop a baseline for the preparation of suitable legislation for the treatment of trained elephants in Assam.
VEsswic Elephant Health Care Program (EHCP), Indonesia
TAEF helps to support the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (Vesswic) with their Elephant Health Care Program (EHCP) for captive elephants in Indonesia. The project provides on-going veterinary care and management support through regular visits and on-call emergency response to government run elephant camps. It includes human capacity building components by providing training to mahouts and staff about the basics of medical management of elephants, daily health care and elephant biology. Technical assistance is also provided to improve and upgrade medical and elephant management facilities in the camps.
Vesswic also encourages and supports the utilisation of captive elephants and mahouts in conservation projects employing them for HEC mitigation forest patrols, education awareness and research programs. Furthermore, EHCP provides veterinary expertise for wild elephants, in cases of injury, rescue, elephant translocations, the fitting of GPS elephant collars for monitoring and research purposes and when necessary, for conducting post-mortems on wild elephants that have died.
Target Training to Asian Elephants, Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos
“Positive Reinforcement and Protected Contact methods have demonstrated that there are simple and practical ways to handle, train and provide treatment for animals without the need to cause psychical or psychological harm.” Gerardo Martinez, Elephant Trainer Consultant, Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation
TAEF is delighted to be working in partnership with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) in introducing traditional elephant trainers to Positive Reinforcement and Protected Contact methods through Target Training Workshops led by Dr Gerardo Martinez.
A vociferous campaigner against animal cruelty and with over 13 years experience in animal care, Dr Martinez developed his Target Training techniques to provide an alternative to the notion that in order to handle and control elephants, firmness, intimidation and aggressiveness are necessary. The Target Training implements the use of positive reinforcement while using safe and non-harmful methods to allow sanitary and medical care to be carried out without the elephants feeling threatened or being harmed.
To date, the Target Training has been adopted by the Elephant Conservation Centre (ECC) in Thailand, Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC), Cambodia and the Pattara Elephant Farm in Thailand. TAEF is committed to promoting cooperation between organizations that are working towards elephant welfare and is proud to offer ongoing support to ensure that Dr Martinez is available to observe progress and offer advice.