The journey to protect elephants is a journey filled with challenges but challenges that can be overcome through the efforts of all the groups and individuals on the front lines fighting for a better future for these amazing animals. As I have written before, one of our primary goals is to help support the work of those fighting tirelessly for the long term survival of elephants. One group we highlighted last month was The Mahout Foundation that is doing amazing work in SouthEast Asia helping give a better life to elephants. I encourage you to check out their impressive work as well as other elephant protection and conservation groups working to implement a wide variety of projects and strategies to end this epic struggle.
We continue to do what we can by working on several fronts both domestically and internationally but a major focus of our organizational efforts continues to be helping Myanmar’s elephants through various projects in the country.
BUILDING ELECTRIC FENCES
We are providing materials necessary to install electric fences in rural villages that are in desperate need of this fencing. Each village we are working in has roughly 15-20 families. These families grow paddy, beans, lemongrass, sesame, sugarcane and cassava plants and without these fences they could lose all their crops, food for themselves and their livelihoods. Due to severe deforestation in the country caused by a century of uncontrolled logging, access to natural food sources for the elephants are pushing them to raid these local crops. This is why these elephants are in such danger because the villagers turn to killing them to protect their crops and their families - which is why these fences are so critical. Please take a look at our new video regarding this growing issue in Myanmar.
We are planning our next trip to Myanmar – most likely in October – to continue filming our documentary regarding the numerous issues facing the country and the impact they are having on the country's elephant population. This will be our third trip to the country and our hopes are to finalize filming this year and have the film ready for the film festival circuit early in 2020. This is a critical component of our educational efforts. In case you missed our short film with footage from our first trip I hope you will take a look.
As you know from our last update we signed an agreement with the Myanmar government to help with the relocation of elephants that are subject to human-elephant conflict and in areas of increased poaching. We are continuing our preparations to execute this project, but relocating elephants is a complicated process. In addition to its complexity, it is also controversial among some animal welfare organizations and so we must move forward in a very methodical manner to ensure that we address the concerns that relevant stakeholders have in the relocation effort. The primary concerns when relocating elephants fall into the following areas:
Is moving the elephant(s) truly necessary to protect them and/or the inhabitants. As part of this, will the new location be more safe and secure than their current location. In short, what is the overall intent of the move.
Can the concern for their safety and those of the local inhabitants be addressed through other means like new fencing, enforcement activities, or through other methods.
Will the move be done in a way that ensures that the herd and family units be maintained and not separated? This is critical to ensuring the proper integration of the elephant(s) into their new home.
Can the safety and security of the elephants and those working to relocate them be ensured during the move.
We have spent the last few months discussing this project with experts around the world to fully understand their concerns and to find the right people to help ensure these concerns are alleviated. This is important to address one of the key parts of our agreement which is to establish and agree to the best practices to ensure the health and safety of the elephants during relocation. These discussions are continuing, and we hope to designate a small team of experts to work on this project soon. Once this team is finalized, they will travel to Myanmar to address two important parts of our agreement with the government:
Identify elephants that need relocation
Identify mutually agreeable areas to relocate the elephant
We understand the need to move quickly to execute this agreement and begin the relocation efforts, but we feel strongly that we must be systematic in our planning and will take the necessary time to make certain this effort is in the best interest of the elephants and those working to ensure their safety and protection.
COMMUNITY AND SANCTUARY
We continue to do the work necessary to get the support and approvals to build our community and sanctuary in Myanmar. Given the complexities of working with the Myanmar government and the importance to ensure that this project is in the best interest of the elephants, the environment, and the local communities, this process is slow but we remain optimistic about its ultimate success. If you haven’t taken a closer look at our plan I hope you will visit our website to learn more.
Our commitment to Myanmar’s elephants continue and these projects are critical in helping ensure the protection these elephants need. But we couldn’t have gotten as far as we have without the critical support of our Myanmar based Advisory Board member U Win Aung. His knowledge of the country has been invaluable to our efforts.
But we can’t achieve our goals without your support and I hope you will consider helping our efforts today! You can help in two ways – by making a direct tax deductible donation or by purchasing one of our limited edition sterling silver and gold elephant conservation pieces available at The Elephant Store. 100% of all proceeds will go into our conservation and protection efforts.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for your interest in our efforts and please don't hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments about our efforts.
All the best,