Monday, May 17, 2010

Elephants in the Forest in Chiang Mai

The biggest change for the project now that we've moved to partner with the villagers in Chiang Mai, is habitat.

The forested mountains of Chiang Mai have not suffered the il fate of deforestation that other regions have endured, thus making this prime habitat for elephants. In the wild, elephants will forage for up to 20 hours a day. Researchers in Khao Yai National Park have identified over 300 local plant species that wild elephants eat. This is the most natural way for them to feed. But, it requires a healthy forest with dense undergrowth of greenery.

Here's a video a shot recently at our new location. Beautiful, green forest, with lots of food for the elephants:

You can see Ann feeding an elephant tamarind fruit in the video. This is a nutritional supplement that volunteers will feed to the elephants each day.

This family of elephants was selected to begin the forest reintroduction programme. We'll also spend hours with the elephants in the forest observing their behaviour, making health inspections, and generally making sure they're adapting well to their new home. There are many other elephants in the village, and if we're successful, more will be able to re-enter the forest.