Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Elephants.

Hello again!

Today, a Top Ten Tuesday post of mine went live in which I told you all that I really really love elephants. I also showed you one of my all time favourite photos of mine, a photo of a baby elephant called Noy Ann. It turns out, that I could not have told you about my elephant obsession at a more apt time, because this morning I got an email updating me on Noy Ann's situation...


Last summer, as a a birthday present from my dad, I got the chance to stay at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Sayaboury, Laos (EEC) for 3 days and 2 nights. Over the course of the stay, I got to meet the 5 female elephants they have staying with them (not including the new mother), got to see and experience first hand the work the centre are doing at their Elephant Hospital (the only one in Laos), got to feed the elephants some sugar cane, learnt how to treat and ride them safely as a mahout (elephant owner) would do, and got to watch them enjoy the acres of space the Centre offers them.

The Centre was originally set up and run by Elefant Asia but is now works in partnership with them, and it's purpose is to rescue elephants from dangerous situations and give them a space to live happily. Elephants that stay here have mainly come from the logging trade, but one of the elephants, Mae Boun Nam, was shot by villagers when she accidentally wandered into their village.

One of the best things the Centre does is combat the steady decline in the population of elephants in the Land of A Million Elephants. People often think that poaching is the main reason for decline, but actually it's deforestation: elephants can no longer wander freely around Laos, and as a result mating has become tremendously difficult. Also, mahouts can't afford to keep an elephant for 4 years (the length of an elephant pregnancy plus breastfeeding time) without the income from work. In order to combat this, the Centre has set up what's called the Baby Bonus programme, where they pay the mahout something like 3x his usual monthly salary for the 4 years in which the elephant will not be able to work. During this time, the pregnant elephant and mahout (plus family) get to stay at the Centre, the elephants get ante- and post-natal care, full veterinary treatment at the on-site hospital, 24/7 supervision during labour, and once born, the calf and its mother get to stay on a separate bit of the conservation before they are old enough to be weaned and introduced to the rest of the herd.

Noy Ann's mother, Mae Khamdi, has been taken care of by her mahout for 30 years and was brought the Centre specifically to take part in the Baby Bonus Programme. If Mae Khamdi and Noy Ann stay at the EEC, not only do they get to continue to live in their adopted herd, they will also be able to take part further in the reproduction programme and perhaps eventually become part of a future aim of the EEC to get their elephants reintroduced into the wild. Not only this, but their mahout gets to keep his job at the EEC and pass on his knowledge to future mahouts. All round good news for everyone!
Now we come to the main point: the EEC cannot afford to cover the whole cost of buying Mae Khamdi and Noy Ann. $60,000 is needed to prevent them either going to tourist centres or circuses, or most likely into the logging industry, working to destroy their own habitat. Only 20% of this fee can be covered by the EEC itself, and so it needs all the help it can get raising enough funds to protect this amazing, beautiful, kind creatures.

You can donate to the campaign here, and can find more information about Mae Khamdi, Noy Ann, and all the other elephants staying at the EEC on their website. I really really hope you check it out because the Centre is doing so much incredible work to help keep these brilliant animals in our world.