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Captive Elephant Welfare Initiative

Elephants in captivity are an ethical concern in the tourism industry. The rapid growth in tourism’s demand for interaction with elephants across Asia coupled with inadequate government regulations has resulted of poor treatment of these animals in many of the elephant facilities. Other facilities however are working in compliance with the best achievable practices in close partnership with elephant experts and universities. Up to date no international accepted standard and related assessment system was existing. The so-called Elephant Camp Animal Welfare Standard and Assessment initiative aims to recognise the better camps and to motivate those not yet complying towards better animal welfare.

Elephants in Asia

With over 3000 years of captive elephant history and given that there are over ten thousand captive elephants in Asia it is important to establish scientific facts, respect local culture and lay down solid foundations that ensure the welfare of captive elephants as well as their traditional mahouts.

Despite calls for action from various animal rights groups, their approach is often not based on scientific facts, does not engage mahouts and elephant (family) business, does not present achievable solutions nor looks at long term sustainability and the survival of the species as such.

We believe responsible tourism encouraging elephant experiences of the highest standard is the most immediate, viable solution. We believe by engaging stakeholders to seek holistic improvements and setting standards across the industry, more can be done to protect elephants than by staging boycotts or signing pledges. Hard work and hard choices based on scientific facts, balancing the interest of individual Elephants, the mahouts, and the conservation of the Asian Elephant, are required by all involved.

Leading Asian tour operators with support of Travelife for Tour Operators, the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG) and PATA have therefore initiated a process to establish a widely supported set of standards and criteria as a guideline and reference for elephant camps. The Elephant Camp Animal Welfare Initiative will provide tour operators as well as their clients the ability to make an informed, ethical choice

Information meeting for Thai Elephant camp owners and managers (August 2017)

The standard

The standard is based upon international animal welfare and sustainability principles including the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG) principles for captive elephants. The standards have also been subject to consultation from individual elephant experts from various disciplines (e.g. elephant veterinarians, mahouts, behavioural experts, biologist, animal learning experts, researchers). Based on a careful process a final draft of the standard was reached in 2017. The standard includes more than 160 criteria divided over 7 themes and 24 subthemes and provides detailed guidelines for the camps as well as the external assessor covering not only the elephants but also the staff, mahouts, sustainable business practices and the relation with the local communities. Elephant camps that comply with the highest of standards treat their elephants in the best possible manner and are committed towards a process of permanent improvement. The scientific based guidelines cover, for example cruelty free learning science based training techniques, closely monitored and regulated working hours, rest periods throughout the day – ideally in a forested area to socialize, bathe and relax and more. Responsible camps have veterinarians on staff, and/or provide regular health checks. Elephants are not tied up with chains of lengths less than 2 metres for prolonged periods of time. Good camps work with local communities providing jobs, marketing local handicrafts and purchasing local supplies to ensure everyone benefits. Camps promoting best practices also actively support and engage in research and conservation projects protecting animals in the wild.

Any interactions between elephants and tourists are based on scientific standards and do not compromise the welfare of the elephants or endanger humans. Most importantly, all good camps register their elephants with the relevant government department, complete with DNA testing to ensure no wild stocks are being captured and added to the captive population. The assessment is designed to ensure standards set by leading experts are being met and improved.

Currently more than 30 elephant facilities from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia are under assessment. Although, it is not guarantee that these 30 camps could pass the evaluation, they are committed to participatorily adjust their management to meet the requirement of the standard.

Supporting tour operators
The initiative is supported by a growing number of Asian tour operators including:.

When you travel with the tour operators supporting this initiative you can be assured that any elephant experience suggested is being held to the highest of international standards and practices. In this way we believe we are effectively contributing to the protection and preservation of elephants in Asia.

The destination management companies (DMCs) and tour operators involved in this initiative will also no longer work with any elephant camp that refuses to be audited or assessed as complete transparency is needed in all aspects of the operations to gauge and ensure responsible practices are indeed in place. Thus financial gains are directed to those working on improving and ensuring the long term welfare of their captive elephants and staff and not to those operating unethically or purely for profit or under false (animal welfare) pretences.

So yes, elephants in captivity is an ethical concern under current circumstances but by working together and using tourism as a powerful tool in the right way, we can ensure the long-term quality if life of thousands of captive elephants throughout Asia and provide clients with an inspiring experience, whilst improving the lives of all involved and preserving local culture and heritage.

Animal welfare auditor and advisor training (Chiang Mai, August 2017)

For more information please contact:

PATA Sustainability: ssr@PATA.org
Travelife for Tour Operators: Naut Kusters: n.kusters@eceat.nl
Asian Captive Elephant Working Group: http://acewg.org

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Credit: WWF on medium.com

As Earth Hour 2018 approaches, Jochem Verberne, Director of Global Partnerships at WWF, sets out how companies can put nature at the heart of business for mutual benefit.

For Earth Hour 2018, at 8.30pm local time on March 24th, we are inviting the world to #Connect2Earth to spark a global conversation about our relationship with nature and how we can live more sustainably.

For business, this means asking what your company or sector can do for nature and sustainability rather than what they can do for you, and how enterprise can serve purpose and responsibility.

At WWF, we accompany partners on a transformative journey — from mapping environmental risks and opportunities, through developing joint initiatives, to catalysing sector-wide change and restoring life on Earth.

Read the full article here and find out more about seven ways your business can take the journey toward sustainability, e.g. understanding material impacts and exposure to environmental risk is the starting point.

By WWF for Medium.

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(Credit: World Wildlife Day – The poster was created by Jerry LoFaro, Mohammed Elnour and Patrick George)

 

This year’s World Wildlife Day on March 3 is the purr-fect opportunity to show your love for big cats – the endangered predators fighting to survive in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America. These majestic creatures are at risk be-claws of many and varied threats, that are mostly caused by human activities. Big cats include not only lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars – the four largest wild cats that can roar – but also cheetahs, snow leopards, pumas, and clouded leopards.

UN World Wildlife Day celebrates and raises awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants – this day was proclaimed in 2013 as the day of signature the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Please paws for a moment and spend some time to learn about these charismatic and admired animals across the globe. Purr-haps, you would like to participate in an event taking place in your country.

The official World Wildlife Day websites shares furry cool and creatives ideas on how to get involved, or choose one of our favourite ideas:

  1. Bring the World Wildlife Day to your office talk to your co-workers about the day during lunch time. Speak up and share your knowledge, passion and questions about wildlife conservation with your co-workers, friends, family and community – either in person or online. For inspiration on spreading the word via social media, have a look at this social media kit.
  2. Use your talent to show your support in the conservation of big cats and inspire the world. For example, check out the amazing sand art created by an Indian sand artist for last year’s World Wildlife Day. Your own creativity is the only limit!
  3. Watch and share the official outreach video for World Wildlife Day 2018 or hold a screening of wildlife films. Check out this page, if you are interested in hosting the screening of the winning film of this year’s International Big Cats Film Festival.

It’s time to take cat-ion and help the un-fur-tunate predators meow!

#WorldWildlifeDay #BigCats #PredatorsUnderThreat #WWD2018 #DoOneThingToday #iProtectBigCats

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Supporters of an ivory ban protest outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

“We now need to see all other countries close loopholes that still allow the illegal trade of ivory to continue.”

Lawmakers in Hong Kong voted to ban all ivory sales in the territory on Wednesday, a move environmentalists hailed as a definitive measure to help curb elephant poaching.

The policies represent a massive step forward in the fight against elephant poaching across Africa and in parts of Asia, where the animals are slaughtered for their tusks. Environmentalists estimate more than 33,000 elephants are killed every year to help feed the demand for ivory, which is seen as a status symbol in some Asian countries.

Countries including Thailand and Vietnam are now the largest remaining markets for the ivory trade, and officials are calling on more sweeping bans to be instituted around the globe.

Read the full article here.

By Nick Visser for the HuffPost.

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People enjoying elephant ride in Chitwan National Park, on Saturday. Photo: THT

Amid increased activism by global animal rights activists against elephant ride, jungle safari operators based in Chitwan and Nawalparasi have demanded that the government come up with a regulations with minimum conditions to be fulfilled for using elephants for tourism and wildlife conservation.

Stating that elephant is a crucial part of Nepal’s wildlife tourism and conservation, they said banning their use completely would have an adverse impact on tourism, which is one of the major contributors to the national economy. At the same time, it would also hamper conservation efforts, and put at risk the livelihood of elephants in captivity.

According to elephant safari operators, tourism also provides livelihood to elephants in captivity. They say these elephants are not only earning money for the tourism business, they are ahelso earning for themselves.

Read the full article about the jungle safari operators’ demand for regulations here.

By Himalayan News Service for The Himalayan Times.

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If You’re Eating Shellfish, You’re Eating Plastic

Categories: Planet, Recommended Reading, Sea, Waste
Comments Off on If You’re Eating Shellfish, You’re Eating Plastic

Microscopic marine organisms like these are encountering a growing volume of microplastic pollution. Fibers from synthetic clothes are a major source of microplastic pollution. Dr. Richard Kirby, Supplied 11 September 2017

Sarah Dudas doesn’t mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science.

But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she’ll probably point out a bivalve’s gonads or remark on its fertility.

And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests—about plastics in those shellfish.

But tracking the origins of tiny plastic particles in a big ocean is new territory. So Dudas turned to Peter Ross, who has studied the effects of ocean pollution on sea life for 30 years.

“We’ve long known that plastic and debris can be a problem for ocean life,” said Ross, director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Research Program.

Read the full article on the research done by Dudas and Ross here.

by  for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock

Sharing has become a main driver for our economy. Using underutilised assets allows us to improve efficiency, sustainability and community. Through user-generated web content, and with the growing popularity of renting goods rather than buying them, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, connected, and conscious.

Here are some ways to become a part of this movement:

  • Check out these 14 pioneers of the “share economy” to learn more about what’s out there already.
  • Break it down to a more personal level and incorporate sharing in your everyday life to improve your sustainability efforts on a smaller scale yet with a bigger and long lasting impact.

Do you want to go on a journey to become more sustainable or even ultimately adapt a zero waste lifestyle, but don’t know where to start? Sharing knowledge and tips within a community of like-minded people is the key to success. Consider these three steps to get rolling:

  1. Get to know your neighbourhood: Explore the area you live in to see which services and goods are available locally. Visit nearby markets and keep your eyes open for small businesses that offer local and organic products but may not necessarily have their own brick and mortar store.
  2. Attend events to learn and connect: Browse for festivals, workshops or other sustainability-related events in your neighbourhood or city. Make sure to green your commute when you go. This is an opportunity to connect with local businesses offering organic or sustainable sourced goods and services. Building relationships is essential in the process of creating a stronger community, as knowledge and updates can be shared and accessed more easily in the future. Contribute to the conversation by sharing what you have previously discovered and learned about your neighbourhood.
  3. Grow your community: Raise awareness about causes that matter to you and invite friends and family to join you in an initiative, challenge or at the next event. Start conversations that encourage others to rethink their own behaviour and actions, and support them to change and improve their lifestyles in a sustainable matter.

Walking the talk is not always easy and you may face difficulties, but remember that together you can tackle every challenge more easily!

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Bamboo Straws Poolside at Anantara Golden Triangle (Credit: unknown via Mark Thomson)

Anantara and AVANI Hotels & Resorts are proud to announce the decision to end the use of plastic drinking straws at all hotels and resorts in Asia from 1 January 2018. The first major hotel brands to announce a companywide decision to eradicate plastic straws at every single property across the Asia region with a view to extend the roll out to properties in Australasia, Europe and the Middle East by the end of the year.

In the serene mountainous region of Northern Thailand, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is working with a local artist, Khamchan Yano, who was shown by the village elders a fast growing wild bamboo, indigenous to the surrounds. Together they have perfected a way to keep the bamboo strong whilst also ensuring it is hygienic and reusable.

Read the full article on the initiative here.

By Mark Thomson on LinkedIn.

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On December 20, 2017, the sustainability team at PATA held a waste management workshop for PATA staff at PATA headquarters. We invited Gili Back, Sustainability Manager at Khiri Travel, as guest speaker to share best practice examples for waste management in a business environment here in Bangkok.

We kicked off the lunch with a delicious lunch from The Lunch Box, initiated and run by Gili Back. To reduce packaging waste from individual servings, we had a buffet-style lunch, served in reusable serving bowls with reusable plates and cutlery. Making a conscious choice about the food we served, we tried three different vegan lunch options, and encouraged PATA staff to try a dietary shift while thinking about the ingredients in our food and the impact eating meat makes on our environment.

   
Gili shared recycling practices and alternatives to single use disposable plastic that are available here in Thailand. She shared helpful tips for how to be more sustainable not only in the office but also at home. Gili then provided insights about how to correctly separate and recycle at the source, such as encouraging everyone to reduce and ultimately avoid plastic use by saying no to single use plastic straws and plastic bags. Gili explained the differences between recycling, composting, and disposal for a better understanding of waste separating practices. She also addressed common misconceptions about bioplastics, such as that bio based plastics are always biodegradable, and fossil-based plastics are never biodegradable or compostable.

Veronika, PATA’s Sustainability & Social Responsibility Associate then shared some astounding facts about waste in Bangkok. Did you know that Bangkokians use 8.1 million plastic bags per day? Learning this, we aim to do our part to improve our sustainability efforts at PATA by introducing new waste separation guidelines.

To put our new knowledge into practice, everyone participated in a fun team activity. Teams raced to correctly separate a bag filled with different types of waste from the office.

   
The winning team explained how they separated their waste to the other teams. We also discussed items that some teams weren’t sure how to categorise. Everyone received a reusable tumbler/water bottle carry bag as prize and was invited to personalise it. We then took our newly separated and repurposed it to create beautiful decorations for this holiday season.

   
   
Following this workshop, we introduced new colour-coded bins that are now in in office pantry to help everyone separate and recycling waste correctly in the future.

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Credit: Shutterstock

Guest blogger Jackie Edwards reminds us about our everyday choices and suggests sustainable ways to start the new year!

Humans have unarguably an enormous impact on our planet. With a growing population needing ever more resources, it’s really important to think about how your life has an impact on the environment around you, and take responsibility.

Some of the greatest effects are the most obvious – like air travel, for example, which is why being a sustainable traveller is really important. However, there are plenty of things to think about a little closer to home as well – consumption of petrol in the USA has more than quadrupled since the 1950s. Sustainability is important in all areas of our lives but really does begin in the home. Small changes to your everyday life will add up over the years to help make a positive impact for generations to come, so consider what you can do differently.

 

Consumable resources

Reducing your water and electricity consumption is a great place to start. Both are necessary to everyday life, but making sure that you are using it efficiently and without unnecessary waste is really important. Get your plumbing checked out for any leaks, and reduce the amount of water your toilet uses to flush – and even try an eco-friendly shower-head. Swap your light bulbs for low-energy LED models, and remember to turn them off when leaving a room – as well as other electrical items like your TV or laptop. You can also help the bigger picture by switching energy suppliers to one committed to using green renewable power.  

 

What’s on the table?

Sustainability isn’t simply about using less: it’s also being smarter about what we do use. Take a look at your pantry and fridge: where does your food come from? How far has it travelled to reach your plate, and how sustainable are the growing and manufacturing processes. You don’t necessarily have to turn vegan, but choosing ethical and sustainable local sources for your meat and dairy products is one way to reduce your impact. Buy only what you need to reduce wastage, and set up a compost bin in your garden to avoid sending any organic scraps to landfill.

 

Shopping and material goods

Whether you’re picking up your weekly shopping or making a big, one-off purchase, take a moment to think about the wider impacts of your choice. Home cleaning products, for example, can contain some really nasty chemicals, which create problems further down the water system – and make sure that as much packaging for food and other products you buy is recyclable or reusable. This is also a good idea to consider when you’re choosing big-ticket items like furniture or electrical equipment: what is its lifespan and how will you get rid of it? Make sure it can be recycled or re-used, and consider paying a bit extra for a quality product that will last longer.

 

Some of these changes will require altering habits and comforts we just take for granted – but with a commitment to sustainability driving you, it won’t be long before this becomes the norm and you can be more confident about your impact on the planet.

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