Monday, February 22, 2010

Elephant Volunteer Program – In the Beginning

The Volunteer Program started with an invitation from the Surin Provincial Government for tourism promoters, conservationists, and volunteers to come visit the elephants in Surin and to support the Take Us Home project. The Take Us Home project is a successful government initiative putting an end to elephant street begging and relocating ex-street begging elephants and mahouts to Surin.

For more info (in Thai), photos, and video, please check out

I made several solo visits to Surin in early 2009, building relationships with the mahouts and locals, finding suitable housing for volunteers, food, etc. A huge help with this research was Mr Grittaporn, manager of the Surin Elephant Study Center, in Baan Tha Klang Village.

In May of 2009 we arrived with our group of volunteers to test out the facilities and meet some of the staff. Thank you Gretchen, Ele, Barb, and Thea for being such great guinea pigs!! And also thanks to Khun Lek for arranging the trip down to Surin from the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.