By Kerri McCrea – Manager & Co-Founder
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KSES!! It has been 4 years since we set off on our journey and what a rollercoaster it’s been! We are very proud of everything we have accomplished over the years and would like to take moment to thank each and everyone one of you who have supported us in some way, whether through donating, visiting, volunteering or interning, we couldn’t do what we do without each and every one of you. However this year is very different to other years.
In the middle of March, we had to come to the very difficult decision to close our doors to the public for an unforeseeable amount of time. This was not an easy decision to reach, as had we not received any support, this would have been the end of KSES and everything we had built over the last 4 years. However there was a rapid growing concern amongst our community and those nearby about the spread of the virus, and bringing outsiders in from all over the world would mean risking bringing the virus to our area. Had it reached our village, this virus would have caused chaos as there are many vulnerable people within the community.
Once we made this difficult decision, we then started working with our future guests to ask for their understanding and to reschedule their stay with us. I would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has understood these hardships with us over this crisis period and have successfully booked on for a future stay. The future of KSES relies on you so I can’t thank you enough.
A few days after we made the decision to close, the Thai government ordered all of the elephant camps to close as well as every public business, in order to control the spread of the virus. Although this has caused many social problems with people struggling for an income, it has been successful at containing the spread of the virus and we look forward to the slow reopening of the country in due time.
The closure of the elephant camps has also put a great strain on all the elephant owners and the mahouts in Thailand. This has meant that there is no income through tourism so many of the camps were unable to provide for and feed their elephants and the elephant owners and mahouts had to make the difficult journey to their villages so that they could look after and care for their elephants at home.
The villages we work with and support now have over 70 elephants that have returned home to our area due to these closures. This was a very difficult time for this to happen as it is the dry and hot season and there have been many illegal forest fires in the area so there is little to no food left for our 5 elephants, never mind 70+ elephants. We are all having to make a 3+ hour journey to find food and bring it back to ensure the elephants have enough to eat.
Due to an article that was posted online, we received a surge of support which has enabled us to help these elephants too and thanks to a partnership with World Animal Protection, we can continue our work through this crisis period. We are now supporting 70+ elephants, something as a small foundation, I never thought possible!
We have no idea how long this period is going to last, but what we do know is that things won’t return to normal for a long period of time. We are very thankful to everyone who is supporting us over this period, and if you haven’t already, please do have a read through our fundraiser and help us get the word out there.
Much love to you all at this time and please keep safe.