EVENT DATE: Oct 08, 2013
HOURS PLEDGED: 148
I just returned from an amazing volunteer project in Thailand -- Surinproject.org. After 2 weeks of working with the 12 amazing elephants whose mahouts have chosen to join this project of promoting the welfare of captive elephants in Thailand I realized there was so much we could do to help them, help their elephants.
The Surin's Projects mission is to promote eco-tourism on the project and to maximize the amount of time all the elephants on the project can spend time "off chain". The Surin Project is housed on the grounds of the Elephant Study Center which grew from the Thai governments "Take Me Home" project.
The "Take Me Home" project was a move by the government to remove elephants from the horrible and abusive lives they lived on the streets of Bangkok & Chang Mai. The majority of all elephants in Thailand originated in the Surin Province so where better to "return" them too.
Mahouts around the country were offered a permanent home and steady income to bring their elephants "home". Sadly the elephants who are NOT a part of the Surin Project are used for a circus and elephant rides that are currently available on the site. It's disturbing to see the way the babies are trained to be participate in the circus. Hooks as training tools are still regarded as "the" way to train an elephant. Thankfully, on the property, Mahouts are NOT allowed to "break" an elephant -- torture or abuse the elephant -- but the hooks are absolutely awful and can draw blood which is visable to the visiting public. All in the name of making money.
No one faults the Mahouts not part of the Surin Project for making addtional money however, their elephants are subject to what amounts to abuse by putting them on display, making them carry visitors for "elephant" rides and almost NEVER letting them off their chains.
The Surin Project was developed in hopes that Mahouts would voluntarily choose to join and offer their elephants a better life. The elephants -- 12 of them currently -- are off chain at least 5 hours a day. They receive constant food and are very very well cared for by their Mahouts. Hooks are NOT allowed - ever.
The project would love to bring more elephants onto the project and show the Mahouts who use their elephants in the circus and for elephant rides that there is a new form of tourism that will provide additional revenue for them and their families.
The mission is eco-tourism -- having visitors spend the day walking with, feeding and watching the elephants play -- off chain. This is so much more for both elephant and tourist and would enable the elephants to get off chain for lengthy periods of time as well as be together -- as elephants should be.
Our goal with this fundraising effort is to raise money for new shelters and planting fields for the elephants on the project. Two of our elephants -- Sai Fa and Mem have no shelters and all the elephants are in constant need of 500lbs of food each day! The more fields we have the better the food we can provide our elephants.
We are also working to teach by example environmental awareness -- recycling, re-using and improving the grounds to ensure the elephants live the best life possible. We've removed pesticides from their food and taken most fruits out of the diet. It's better for them and easier for the Mahouts to grow sugar cane and elephant grass than to buy fruits. Although, the elephants definitely get a treat of bananas or whatever the project and volunteers can afford to buy.
Please help us help our beautiful captive elephants live the best lives possible. The better the lives of the Mahouts, the better the lives of the elephants and the more money the project can raise the easier it is for the Mahouts to ensure their elephants live a long and happy life!