Friday, March 13, 2015

Asian Elephant Conservations – How the Thai Elephant Sanctuary is Changing Lives

Asian Elephant Sanctuaries – How the Thai Elephant Conservation Center is Changing Lives

This year marks the beginning of the 22nd year for the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. The TECC was founded in 1993 and today cares for more than 50 Asian elephants. Despite the success of the TECC and the growing number of conservations and elephant sanctuaries, Asian elephants are still endangered and continue to be exploited for their ivory, meat and hides.

Why Are Asian Elephants Endangered?

Once upon a time Asian elephants could be found throughout the continent. Today, however, there are fewer than 40,000 wild Asian elephants remaining. The biggest threat? Humans.

Asian elephants prefer habitats that consist of grassy and foresty areas with low, woody plants and trees. They are extremely social animals and they typically travel in small groups that occasionally and temporarily join other small elephant groups to socialize in a larger herd. However, due to a booming human population, many of these elephants are no longer able to join with other elephants as their traditional migratory routes have been cut off.

Human settlements are ever-closing in on the elephants’ forest habitat. As their natural habitat shrinks, Asian elephants are forced to locate food outside of their preferred, safe area. Run-ins between elephants and humans are now on the rise; these meetings typically are not peaceful and human-elephant conflicts are yet another answer to the question of why Asian elephants are engendered.

How Does Elephant Conservation Help?

While some humans are undeniably a threat to Asian elephants, others have dedicated their lives to providing elephants with a safe home, fighting to protect their natural habitats against poachers.

Today there are elephant conservations and sanctuaries across Asia. The Thai Elephant Conservation Center is located in Lampang Province and is Thailand’s only government sponsored elephant reservation. The TECC aims to promote affordability and accessibility to the Asian elephants, with admission price set at only 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children (about $6 and $3).

This Thai elephant sanctuary is also extremely active in conservation efforts. They manage the country’s first mobile elephant clinic – with which they provide help to elephants in need for free - and operate an on-site hospital. The TECC also strives to conduct cutting-edge research, particularly science involving reproduction, artificial insemination, and the biomechanics of how elephants move. For years this Thai elephant sanctuary has had an excellent natural breeding rate, typically delivering at least two new baby elephants every year.

This elephant conservation was also the first place in Thailand where elephants learned to paint. With a little bit of care, love and training, certain elephants can actually create truly beautiful and unique paintings. The elephants can create paintings that range from “abstract art” to paintings of flowers, landscapes and other elephants – perhaps even self-portraits.

Without elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, throughout Asia, and around the world, elephants would be even more endangered than they are currently. If you’re searching for a way to support elephant conservation efforts, consider purchasing your own elephant art today to help elephants support elephants.


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