By Jade Clayson – Project Assistant
Three weeks today I’ve been back working at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary (KSES), two weeks ago was Geeju day, a village celebration for the end of harvest season. The day consisted of plenty of rice whisky, traditional Karen food and laughter from house to house. The project here has a very good relationship with the locals which is vital for the project’s success, it has to be stressed to anybody coming onto the project how important it is to respect the villagers and their culture. A positive working relationship with the local community is something the project prides itself on, the villagers love having KSES here, it increases their income through the homestay programmes (as well as many other various incomes) and supports their livelihoods.
KSES have 5 elephants in their care: grandmother (Too Meh), auntie (Mae Doom), 2 grandson’s (Gen Thong and Dodo) and an unrelated male (Boon Rott). All of the elephants have very distinct individual characters and different history’s but now all have been bought back to the forest where they belong. Previously all working in the harsh entertainment and tourism industry, the elephants at KSES are not working elephants anymore.
Dodo is our newest addition elephant at KSES, he has already joined the project but is not yet able to be visited by anyone, he is Gen Thongs older brother. Dodo has been known to be quite aggressive in the past, towards both humans and other elephants and was kept in confinement throughout most of his life because of his unpredictable behaviour. The mahouts are consistently working with him to try and get him used to being in the forest, a tricky task for an elephant that’s spent his life working to entertain tourists in camps. It is a slow working process, but with donations and your support we can help keep him in the forest to rest, be an elephant and hopefully live the rest of his live as stress-free as possible.
Please help and donate: https://www.gofundme.com/bring-an-elephant-home-fund
KSES run a beautiful project in the mountains of Thailand and I would seriously recommend this project to anyone, especially the intern placements for those who are studying or want to gain some skills in the field of elephant research or teaching. It’s wonderful to wake up early every morning to hike through the forest and to sit and watch elephants in their natural environment: foraging, vocalising, playing and just being elephants. KSES have worked hard to bring and keep these elephants in the surrounding forests. To be endorsed in culture and experience a very different way of life is very rewarding and definitely puts life into perspective. Far away from western luxuries and cities, the village life is beautiful and peaceful.