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SOURCE: FRONTIER MYANMAR

Green Hill Valley Elephant care camp is making Elephant care a priority! After 3 years of exploring potential sites, owner Tin Win Maw has taken the plunge as Myanmar’s first privately owned care camp. Read the full article here.

Published on Frontier Myanmar.

Written by Thomas Kean.

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An Ivory-Free New Year

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The Year of the Pig is almost here! And with it, the opportunity to travel and purchase souvenirs for your loved ones. We have partnered with WWF to provide a few tips for choosing sustainable and heartfelt gifts that won’t get you into trouble with a customs agent.

Elephants have long been regarded as symbols of good fortune and strength. But each year, at least 20,000 elephants are poached for their tusks. China banned domestic commercial ivory trade at the end of 2017. Since then, it has been illegal to buy or sell ivory in physical or online markets. Transporting ivory in and out of China is also illegal. And yet, many travelers still get caught bringing ivory home, spoiling memories of their trip and having items confiscated.

That’s why actor Huang Xuan is here to remind everyone traveling outside of China not to purchase and bring home ivory products.

There are so many alternatives to ivory. Here are some ideas for gifts that are both sustainable and beautiful from some of the most popular destinations:

Coconut Shell Lights

Coconuts are very common in Southeast Asia, and their round and tough shells are ideal for carvers. In Thailand’s markets, you can find these shells transformed into exquisite lanterns, bowls and other wares.

Laos Flower Paper

Luang Prabang in Laos is a hub for artists, many of whom use local tree pulp and flowers to create delicate, decorative flower paper. Because of its translucent quality, flower paper is most commonly used to make lampshades.

Myanmar Sand Painting

The ancient art of sand painting is done using sand dyed with natural pigments. In Bagan, artists have mastered the art form to create intricate scenes and durable keepsakes.

We hope you enjoy your travels and make sustainable choices along the way. Please help us spread the word by posting one of the posters below to your social media channels. This new year help us save elephants by refusing to purchase and transport ivory.

Other ways PATA partners and members can help this cause:

‘All:

  • Share and use WWF’s resources widely during Feb 8-17, 2019.
  • Use the hashtag #TravelIvoryFree or #样的旅行 during Lunar New Year.
  • Disseminate messages from available materials specifically to users who book travel products (e.g. flight, hotel, tours) to Thailand and Vietnam between Feb 8-17.

Airlines:

  • Promote Travel Ivory Free messages on flights from China to active ivory markets like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore.
  • Read a Travel Ivory Free announcement over PA system before landing.

Travel Media:

  • Share this message or write original pieces about the impact or risks of the illegal ivory trade; WWF has experts available for interviews in China and photos and videos for media use.

OTAs and Travel Review Sites:

  • Post destination-specific content for active ivory markets (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore) on relevant destination pages. (Content to be provided by WWF.)
  • Share this message or write original pieces about the impact and risks of the illegal ivory trade on relevant destination pages.’

Contact WWF for more information: Anny Liang at yliang@wwfchina.org

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asian elephants, thailand, thai elephants

A wild elephant investigates a pickup truck in Thiland – Photo: © IUCN / Bampen Chaiyarak

A new study conducted by the Thai foundation Bring the Elephant Home (BTEH) shows that certain types of deterrence measures could reduce human-elephant conflict (HEC) in Thailand, and save lives on both sides. The study’s findings suggest that people’s interest in conserving elephants is more or less proportional to how much they stand to gain from the animals’ presence. It also found that those currently in conflict with elephants show a willingness to shift to alternative methods of deterrence to those currently being employed.

Elephants, revered and loved for ages in Thailand, have lately become a problem. Human settlements are expanding into elephant habitat, leaving wild populations of the species no other option but to invade human territory. Here, they can ravage plantations and destroy houses, which often escalates into direct confrontation. Conflicts between people and elephants result in hundreds of deaths per year on both sides, and pose a significant threat to the survival of Asian elephants, which are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

Read the full article here.

By IUCN.

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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 have enrolled in the program and are under assessment. They are committed to improvements to comply with 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: info@travelife.info
Asian Captive Elephant Working Group: http://acewg.org

Resources

http://sustain.pata.org/interview-dr-andrew-mclean-human-elephant-learning-program/

Statement

http://sustain.pata.org/captive-elephant-welfare-initiative/

http://acewg.org/news/

www.travelife.info/index_new.php?menu=projects&lang=en

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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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Photographer: Wayne Lawrence for Bloomberg Businessweek

A mahout, wearing the traditional mohom outfit—denim, red neckerchief, and yellow straw hat—sits atop an elephant at Anantara.

Anantara Golden Triangle in northern Thailand is one of the only places where you can ethically interact with the country’s elephants.

 

I’m half-submerged in the Mekong River—the watery border that ­separates Laos from Thailand and Myanmar—sitting atop a big-eared, pink-spotted, 3-ton elephant named Poonlarp. Her skin looks soft from a distance, but it’s much coarser up close, covered in inch-long bristles. Her gait, which at first gives the appearance of flowing-through-honey movement, feels wobbly up this high. She’s alternately headstrong and playful. If you’ve ever walked a large, stubborn dog, you have an idea what it’s like to ride an elephant. This is the ­bucket-list item that brings people here to Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort.

 

Read more about ethically interacting with elephants at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort here. 

 

 

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced Saturday, Jan. 14, that it plans to close forever in May after a 146-year run (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)


When Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced late Saturday that it would permanently end all of its performances this May after a 146-year run, there seemed to be a collective gasp online, along with a smattering of nostalgia for “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

The show has been, after all, nearly synonymous with “the circus” in the United States since the 1800s, when showman Phineas Taylor Barnum partnered with ringmaster James A. Bailey to produce an exhibition of animals and human oddities. Meanwhile, five brothers from the Ringling family in Wisconsin had set up their own variety act. By Amy B Wang. Read more on The Washington Post.

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China to Shut Down Its Ivory Trade by the End of 2017

Categories: Asia, Planet, Recommended Reading, Wildlife, Wildlife
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Advocates applaud the move by the world’s largest consumer of ivory, saying it could help save Africa’s remaining elephants.

With African elephant populations plummeting because of poaching for the ivory trade, China's announcement that it will phase out its legal market by the end of next year comes as welcome news to advocates. PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENT STIRTON, GETTY IMAGES, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

With African elephant populations plummeting because of poaching for the ivory trade, China’s announcement that it will phase out its legal market by the end of next year comes as welcome news to advocates.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENT STIRTON, GETTY IMAGES, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

China will shut down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017, according to an announcement made today by the Chinese government.

The announcement comes more than a year after China’s President Xi Jinping and United States President Barack Obama pledged to enact “nearly complete bans” on the import and export of ivory, an agreement Wildlife Watch reporter Rachael Bale described as “the most significant step yet in efforts to shut down an industry that has fueled the illegal hunting of elephants.” – By Jani Actman. Read more on National Geographic

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The Human Cost of Elephant Tourism

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elephant

Mahouts rest as their elephants eat fruit in Chiang Mai

While Western activists focus on the animals, their handlers are often treated as expendable.

It should have been a day like any other in Mae Wang, Thailand. But at one elephant camp in this small rural district just outside the tourism hub of Chiang Mai, the elephant handlers, or mahouts, were on edge. Somjai, a five-ton bull decked out with a pair of meter-long ivory tusks, was in musth, a hormonal phase characterized by huge increases in testosterone and aggression. By Hilary Cadigan. Read more.

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Rides we should not book

Categories: Fauna, Recommended Reading, Wildlife
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A mahout and tourists riding an elephant in Chitwan National Park. Source: TTR Weekly

A mahout and tourists riding an elephant in Chitwan National Park. Source: TTR Weekly

BANGKOK, 9 May 2016: Elephant rides are heading for exit door fast.  That’s the prognosis presented by thousands of tourists who make their voice heard through animal rights’ blogs and social media.

It is also the opinion of a few far-thinking elephant owners. By Don Ross. Read more.

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