The advancement and encouragement of the ethical treatment, welfare, and veterinary care of the Asian elephant in Thailand will only occur through education. One of STEF’s principle aims since it was set up has been to promote education both to the people of Thailand and internationally. With these objectives in mind, the Trustees set up an initiative called PLACE2C, to sponsor group visits, particularly of children, to approved and ethically-based elephant centres in Phang Nga Province.
In December 2018, we sponsored our first PLACE2C group visit and asked the Yaowawit charitable foundation, that cares for disadvantaged and marginalised children, if they would like to visit the Phang Nga Elephant Park, run and owned by STEF trustee Jakrapob Thaotad.
Yaowawit School is the home of 138 children, aged 4-18, offering a holistic (body, mind and spirit) education and pre-vocational training in hospitality and agriculture. Its mission is to provide life skills to help children in need to become open-minded, confident, caring and happy human beings. The STEF offer was accepted with alacrity, and we were delighted to arrange the day at no cost to Yaowawit. Local transporters offered to help with special rates for the transport, and the Park, which was closed to other visitors for the day, generously provided food and staff giving the students a very full and constructive programme.
Twenty students aged 7-12 were able to meet the elephants, learn about them and participate in a wonderful range of educational activities. The students learned about the history, management, welfare and healthcare of the Asian elephant and its essential role in Thai culture. They saw how to make elephant food balls, which can be used as supplements, and were able to meet and feed some of the magnificent elephants at the Park. The value of elephant-human interaction is critically important and it was wonderful to see the children responding to the feel, smell and touch of these magnificent animals. An arts and crafts session was included, with prizes for the most creative and distinctive elephant art.
Finally the students had a chance to plant elephant grass as a thought-provoking way of giving something back to the animals that are such a treasure of this great country. STEF provided a souvenir bag for each of the visitors as they left.
We will carefully assess the success of this visit, and hopefully will be regularly inviting other special school groups to participate in our PLACE2C programmes. Will you support our efforts in education? Please click here.