Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Location and New Local Partners

Anouncing a change of location, and big oportunities by connecting with our new local partners!

GVI's Thai Elephant project is now partnering with the Asian Elephant Sanctuary, located in the small Karen village of Huay Pakoot, in Chiang Mai Province. Members of this traditional Karen community have been keeping elephants for hundreds of years.

Now some mahouts have had enough of circus work and street begging, and wish to return to their village and bring their elephants back to the forest. They need our help!


GVI was approached by a qualified veterinary elephant specialist, representing a community of traditional elephant-keepers seeking funding assistance and hands-on support. This is a new project with clear aims to develop a wild reintroduction program for rescued elephants. Grass roots community involvement is already built into the organization. There is an immediate need to supply financial and administrative support, or else these elephants will be forced to return to work in circuses or street begging.

GVI’s original Thai Elephant project, located in Surin Province is still indeed a worthy project. However, the Surin elephants are now receiving government assistance, and there is reasonable expectation of success there regardless of GVI’s direct involvement. The new project location in Chiang Mai, however, presents an immediate need, is a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to get involved with a new project from the very beginning, and is an opportunity to help a new and otherwise isolated population of elephants – an opportunity that could just not be passed up.


“Dr Pak”, Grishda Lungka, D.V.M.

Director, Asian Elephant Sanctuary

Dr Pak earned his bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine from Thailand’s esteemed Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. After graduating he spent years gaining practical experience while working as an elephant vet at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang. He’s managed elephant camps in Laos, and worked as a vet with private camps in Thailand. Before returning to the academic world to lecture on Elephant and Wildlife Veterinary Medicine at Chiang Mai University then Mahanakorn University, he was the Elephant Reintroduction Project Manager for WWF Thailand. It was during this time that Dr Pak gained valuable knowledge about reintroducing elephants into the forest which he now brings to bear on our wild reintroduction program. As head vet of Asian Elephant Sanctuary, Dr Pak ensures all the elephants in our volunteer program receive the highest standard of care, and he also generously extends free care to all the elephants in the surrounding community. GVI Volunteers on this project benefit from his guidance and may also get the opportunity to share his specialized knowledge in elephant veterinary medicine.