Bangkok, 18 July 2019 – Wildlife conservation and caring for animals is proving increasingly important as growing global populations gobble up more resources and exploit more land, but there are increasing efforts to save animals and preserve the habitat they need to live in. In Thailand, independent and government organisations, and individuals have made great strides to improve the situation.
A priority is preserving Thailand’s remaining forest cover and returning some developed areas back to a wild state.
Caring for the national symbol
About 3,000 majestic wild elephants live in sanctuaries and national parks in different parts of Thailand and their population is increasing. The number of domesticated elephants is also about 3,000.
The elephant is Thailand’s national symbol.
Large wild areas are needed for them to thrive, and there is renewed focus on that. To counter poaching, the government plans a database of every domesticated elephant’s genetic information that should stop poachers from taking wild baby elephants and claiming them as offspring of domesticated elephants. The government is also scrutinising elephant camps for any mistreatment of pachyderms.
The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) has been caring for elephants in a forested area south of Chiang Mai since 1993. Conservation is the key, and TECC operates an onsite elephant hospital and manages a mobile clinic. It teaches tourists to appreciate elephants and has pioneered conservation and science.
It has an excellent natural breeding programme and shares its knowledge and extensive library housed in the National Elephant Institute of Thailand on the site.
Phang Nga Elephant Park, a family-run eco-business just north of Phuket, offers a unique experience to visitors. The elephants are treated with respect: no dancing and circus tricks. Public awareness about elephants is the aim. Through human-elephant interaction people learn to respect and practice responsible elephant tourism.
Among many other groups doing important conservation work for the Thai elephant include Elephants World in Kanchanaburi to raise awareness and funds for Thai elephants.
Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) was founded in 2001 to help all captive animals in every way possible, including reintroducing them back into the wild when possible. Since 2006, it has also focused on reforestation, so the wild animals have habitat.
The Bird Conservation Society of Thailand founded in 1953 is perhaps the country’s oldest conservation NGO. It organises field trips and projects to conserve birds and bird sanctuaries.
A dog’s life
The Soi Dog Foundation started in Phuket in 2003 to help the street dogs and cats on the island. Their efforts continue to provide a humane and sustainable solution to the stray population and has expanded nationwide. It also campaigns for improved animal welfare rights across Asia.
Work includes rescue, sheltering, medical treatment and vaccination of strays. Finding them homes and neutering, too. Once 80% of a population has been sterilised the numbers living on the streets begin to decline naturally, according to global studies. Sterilisation is sustainable and humane and has been proven to work.
Thailand’s relationship with the sea makes protecting the oceans of paramount concern. The UN reports two-thirds of the global marine environment has been significantly altered by humans. Efforts in Thailand include reducing plastic waste and conservation of corals. Cleaning up trash and the control of invasive species, are others.
Some, like the Marine Conservation Project, invite volunteers to help in their conservation efforts.
Other conservation efforts
The World Wild Fund for Nature Thailand (WWF), Greenpeace and other conservation organisations are also working to preserve natural parts of Thailand.
The world’s largest independent conservation organization, WWF, was founded in 1961 and has operated in Thailand since 1995. It aims to build a future where humans live in harmony with nature. Measures include conserving biological diversity, the sustainable use of renewable natural resources, reduction of wasteful consumption and stopping pollution.
Challenges remain, but a growing awareness and appreciation, and the host of organisations, government agencies, companies and individuals already involved, are pointing the way to preserving pristine parts of the kingdom and caring for its animals.
*Photo gallery: The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, Lampang
(including the 4 photos above)