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We have been lucky enough to cross paths with the founders behind Thailand Elephants.org. They will be taking over our blog posts once a month to bring you some amazing, heartbreaking, incredible stories about Elephants in Thailand the impacts of tourism and how you can get involved. Welcome Gemma Annan and Jade Glayson over to you…
Todays focus is on Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) and introducing ThailandElephants.org
Blog 1: 19/8/15. Written by Gemma Annan
Here we are…..Thailand Elephants
Introducing oneself and thailandelephants.org can be a challenging thing to do, but here we are: Gemma and Jade; the co founders of www.thailandelephants.org a website committed to raising awareness about The plight of the Asian Elephant in Thailand. Along those lines, our aim here is to bring you a monthly blog dedicated to elephant tourism with a focus on Thailand.
This first blog is a short and sweet introduction to us, the elephant authors and a snippet of what you can expect from us in the coming months.
My name is Gemma Annan and I am currently living and working in the UK as a Residential Childcare Worker. Before this I spent two years working as a manager for a volunteering and Travel company leading a Thailand Elephant Reintroduction Programme.
I spend my free time volunteering for The Wildlife Trust, researching elephant tourism and updating our website and social media pages.
I returned from Chiang Mai, Thailand in December 2014; where, as I mentioned before, I spent two years managing the Volunteer Thailand Elephant Reintroduction Programme. I worked closely with the local (Karen) elephant owners and mahouts with the goal of reintroducing their tourist camp elephants back into the mountainous forests.
I gained my conservation knowledge and passion through both academic and practical experience. The former by the way of achieving a degree in Wildlife Conservation with Zoo Biology at the University of Salford; the latter through years of field experience both in the UK and abroad, this included work with elephants in South Africa and Sri Lanka. Added to this I have backpacked to many places around the world, and the experiences I have gained have helped to open my eyes and has driven my eagerness and passion to educate future backpackers in making ethical decisions when visiting captive elephants.
I met Jade Clayson on the Elephant Project in 2014; Jade was a long term intern who was focused on elephant behaviour and data collection.
The first thing you notice about Jade is her funky dreads and happy go lucky personality, once you’ve passed that it’s easy to see Jade is an inspiring, young and passionate elephant enthusiast. Jade was spurred into action to fight tourist ignorance, when she saw for herself the plight that Thailand’s elephants faced.
Jade has just returned to the UK after working as a staff member on another volunteering project; working in partnership with a turtle conservation company to protect and monitor sea turtles in Greece.
When Jade is in the UK she volunteers at a Wildlife Park as a conservation assistant; she assists with the successful breeding and release of the UK’s most endangered species, the water vole. Jade also dedicates her time to educating the general public about ethical elephant tourism via the website and social media tools.
Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus)
Thailand’s elephant population has decreased by 90% in the last century. The total number of wild elephants is debatable, but it is safe to say it is somewhere in the region of 1,500-3,000 (it all depends what resource you read), no count has been done for several years. The captive population in Thailand is between 3,500-4,000.
So as the wild elephants decrease and captive numbers increase we feel the need to educate tourists to go see elephants behaving and living appropriately, as so many camps today offer an unethical and unrealistic experiences, brought about by cruel and inhuman training.
We will bring you blogs concerning various topics such as elephant shows, painting, riding, elephant selfies and street begging. We will also write about how to be ethical, how to be happy, elephant poaching and the illegal elephant tourism trade. So be prepared to be educated and to educate!
All images curtesy of ThailandElephants.org
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