Thursday, November 29, 2012

Staff and intern blogs - Rachel

Next up is Rachel, one of our field staff team:

Hi, my name is Rachel, I’m 25 years old from Cheltenham, England. I joined the GVI Thai Elephant Conservation project in July as a staff member to lead volunteer groups through forests and collect valuable data on our herd of elephants. My background is in Animal Science, Conservation and Outdoor Education. I completed a BSc Animal Science degree four years ago, during which I did my first volunteer trip abroad with a couple of friends to South Africa. We worked on an animal rehabilitation project where we aimed to care for injured wildlife and return it to their natural habitat. I loved this type of work and once I completed my degree I returned to South Africa and worked as a volunteer coordinator on a similar project that combined conservation work with educating local children. 

These trips were definitely life changing experiences and enhanced my CV when I returned to England to find paid work in outdoor education. After three years I decided I wanted to work abroad again, this time in Thailand, and experience a different culture which is when I saw the position for volunteer leader with GVI. Within weeks I was fortunate enough to be offered the job and am now enjoying the fantastic opportunity to observe elephants in the mountainous forests near Chiang Mai.

The aim of the project is to provide an alternative future for elephants working in tourist camps.  The project brings them back to roam the forests beyond the village. They are still cared for by their Mahouts but their ‘job’ now is to “just be elephants”, foraging and interacting as they please.

It is fantastic to see the benefits to the elephants and the community. I’m really pleased I’ve got the opportunity to be involved with such a worthwhile project and am looking forward to the adventures to come.