In all our projects we mean to work together with local organizations, involve local people, and get a lot of people joining our projects.
- Wild elephant conservation in Thailand
- Wild elephant conservation on Borneo
- Ethical treatment of elephants in captivity
- Education and awareness
More information about Wild elephant conservation in Thailand and on Borneo you can find on the page Conservation Action. On this page we explain how we create and protect nature for wild elephants.
In 2018 we opened a new office in South Africa, to study African human-elephant conflicts too, and work on more sustainable conflict mitigation. More information about our projects in Africa can be found on the page Africa under Projects
Ethical treatment of elephants in captivity
Most elephants in Thailand live in captivity. But their lives do not have to be as sad as the often are. We believe in more animal friendly ways of working with elephants, more natural, and more sustainable; all elephants in captivity have the right to a respectable life.
We support projects that do not suppress the natural behaviour of elephants, but encourage it. We create more awareness among tourists, so they can make a sustainable, animal friendly choice when visiting elephants.
We take action for elephants in need, keeping in mind that we don’t want to contribute to the elephant trade. We prefer to generate alternatives for elephant families. When necessary we campaign for better elephant welfare standards, always within Thai law and appropriate to Thai culture. One example of this was our campaign about street elephants, which are illegal according to Thai law. We help elephant projects to become more animal friendly, greener, and more sustainable. If our volunteers what to include an elephant visit during educational volunteer program, we will arrange this at places where elephants have a life as natural as possible.
Research, education and awareness
By setting up experimental plots, we can find answers to questions like:
- What tested tree species meet the required criteria?
- How can plantation design be optimized in the local conditions. E.g. what species survive well in Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary (bamboo dominated forest) or in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (evergreen mixed swamp forest)?
- How fast does biodiversity recover? How does distance to nearest forest affect biodiversity recovery?
- What is the impact of wild elephants on forest restoration work?
To plan our forest restoration work, research data on the behaviour and movements of the elephants is important. On Borneo, research has been done by the Danau Girang Field Centre in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary to develop models for habitat suitability and to locate corridors. At the moment nine elephants wear a GPS-collar to map their migration routes and mark problem areas. With this project we help to translate research data into practical action, to save the Borneo elephants from extinction.
For schools, universities and volunteer groups we organize educational programs to create more awareness about the plight of Asian elephants and the forests where they should be able to live safely. The educational programs are always custom made, and combined with a practical component, such as potting seedlings, planting trees, caring for elephants. The educational program aims at the situation of Thai elephants, the importance of protecting their habitat and practical solutions.
We raise awareness about the flight of Asian elephants in different ways to a large audience. We co-produced two documentaries (the award winning Return to the Wild and the Dutch Aanpakken en Wegwezen), wrote the book The Great Elephant Escape and had interviews with many newspapers, magazines, bloggers and TV-programs. We have been collaborating with Dutch tour companies to promote ethical tourism with elephants. In 2013, a milestone has been reached in changing tourism with elephants in cooperation with World Animal Protection and TUI. After several years of sharing information between TUI and BTEH, the Netherlands is the first country to show clearly that there is a demand for ethical tourism, where tourists can encounter elephants in their natural environment. We hope more countries will follow this initiative of the Netherlands, so that more and more elephants in captivity can have a more respectful life.
In summer, our volunteers tour through the Netherlands and Belgium with a market stand to inform people about elephant welfare and conservation. The booths are also important for maintaining our network, for example by connecting to other organizations, the tourist industry, other market stands, and the Thai community in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Watch the video ‘In action for the Bornean elephant’ about Trees for Elephants in Borneo:
Watch the video about our conservation work for wild elephants in Thailand.