A group of enthusiastic school children recently enjoyed a day at the Phang Nga Elephant Park (PNEP) to learn about elephants. This followed on from the inaugural visit by students in December 2018 (see previous news item) supported by STEF as part of its commitment to encourage education on the welfare and history of Thailand’s elephants.
The students came from the Yaowawit school in Kapong, 125km north of Phuket, which was initially set up to aid children affected by the tsunami in December 2004, and now educates some 138 youngsters from underprivileged families. The lucky group of 20 that were welcomed for the day at PNEP as part of the Place2C programme had the Park exclusively to themselves, offering them the opportunity to meet the elephants, learn about them – and have some fun.
The students, aged 7-12 years, learnt about the important role of the Asian elephant in Thai culture as well as the management, welfare and history of these magnificent animals. They watched as the daily health checks were done, and saw for themselves the care given to the elephants. Then, of course, the best part: they got to feed the elephants with the supplement food balls (which they had helped to make) and lots of bananas.
Later in the afternoon they all took part in an elephant themed treasure hunt with educational clues (and plenty of prizes) until the final clue led them to helping the PNEP’s volunteers to plant grass for future food for the elephants.
“Our children had a lovely time at the park” said Miss Pissamai KomKirin, Manager of Yaowawit School. “They really liked the programme that was organised. Thank you for this great opportunity”.
The Children met the STEF Thailand Chairman, Jake Thaotad, who commented “We were so pleased to sponsor the visit of these lovely children to the Phang Nga Elephant Park. The smiles on their faces as they met the elephants and fed them bananas was a joy to see. They also learned so much from the fantastic team at the Park. STEF Thailand is very proud to be associated with the Place2C project”
Thanks to some wonderful support from several trusts and foundations, as well as remarkable generosity from many individuals, we are already two-thirds of the way towards our target to complete the elephant clinic.
Work is well underway to finish the veterinary office, laboratory and clinic foundations and these should be completed in October 2019. We are now actively seeking funding to finish further work on the roofed barn where the elephants will be treated, the reinforced floor, and the haha (recessed vertical barrier) essential for loading and offloading the elephants. We also need funds to drill the bore hole and provide a water storage and supply system for the clinic. The drainage is already in place and one amazing donor has given us a gift so we can buy and install our solar panels and electric power requirements, which are now on order. Once the roof is on the office, the panels can be put in place. You can read about our renewable energy plans here.
As with any new building, the site must then be made good, the paddocks prepared, the mahout huts put in place and the veterinary supplies purchased. Thanks to another generous donor, we have our mobile vet clinic and we are already talking to members of the veterinary profession about identifying a suitable vet to work with us out of the clinic. It is going to be a very exciting year as Southern Thailand Elephant Foundation starts to contribute positively to the health and welfare of the Asian elephants of Phang Nga Province and surrounding areas.
The Trustees of STEF are lucky to be supported by four Volunteers, who have given their time freely to help us in our mission. It is time to publicly thank them for their work and to express our appreciation for their efforts. You can read a bit about each of them if you click here.
Two of the team, Blaid (left) and Jess (right), at different periods each spent several months working in Southern Thailand as volunteers at an ethical elephant park. Both are keen environmentalists who care passionately about elephants, their future and their welfare. Jess is now working as a Research Agronomist for a Biotechnology company in Nottingham, and Blaid, a qualified engineer, has a dynamic post with a multinational energy company with an office in central London. These two great people are helping us with our fundraising.
Abi, the third UK-based member of the team, has not worked in Thailand but she has made a visit to see for herself and to learn about our work and mission and after that was determined to assist us. She has an amazing background in business, travel and tourism and is bubbling with ideas to help us to promote the charity using social media platforms and in looking for companies and individuals who would like to be associated with our work. We are benefiting from her enthusiasm and marketing skills.
In the USA, we are lucky to have Sarah (left) working for us. Like Blaid and Jess, Sarah also worked with elephants in Southern Thailand as a Volunteer in 2018 and saw for herself what can be achieved practically and effectively for the health and welfare of domesticated elephants. With a lot of experience working with animals, Sarah wants to help STEF do more to protect and care for this endangered species.
All of these young people share our passion for the Asian elephant. They all have busy lives of their own yet somehow find time to give several hours a week to working to assist us. We sincerely thank them all. If you are able to help them a bit in their work to raise the vital funds we need please do so. You can contact us for further information by clicking here. One of the team will get back to you asap!
STEF Trustee Roger Clark FCA visited the new hospital site this week to see for himself how the works are progressing. He was pleased with what has been achieved despite a slow start due to heavy rain. As an accountant, Roger is closely interested in expenditure and costs.
Roger found that the foundations are well advanced both for the hospital barn and for the veterinary office and laboratory. The ramp has also been graded ready to create the haha – a recessed vertical barrier for off-loading and loading elephants.
It really is quite amazing what has been achieved in less than a year but where there is a will there is a way and we are immensely grateful to those trusts and individuals who have supported our endeavours to date.
Of course there is still so much more to do and we continue to fund-raise and to do all we can to complete the much-needed clinic as soon as we possible can.
If you can help us in any way, perhaps by just sponsoring a tree for £25 it will help us a lot and we will never forget your support. You can sponsor a tree and get your STEF Certificate if you click here.
Despite the heavy rains at this time of year, we do get some sunny spells and this is when the workforce can get going with the infrastructure for the new clinic. The works will continue steadily throughout the rest of this year but we have started this month with pile driving to sink reinforced concrete poles (piles) into the soil to provide foundation support for the main barn. A drop-hammer uses a falling weight to drive the posts into the earth.
Now the pillars are in place, we will move on to lay the foundations (again weather dependent) and build the office and small laboratory. We have ordered the solar panels to provide the electricity for the unit but we are now actively fundraising to get the money to drill the borehole and erect a water tower to supply the site. Meanwhile we will keep you posted as the building work continues. Thank you for your marvellous interest and support.
If you can help us to complete the elephant hospital in 2019, do please give what you can. It can be dedicated to an individual or to a cause. If you are a UK tax payer, please consider completing and returning a Gift Aid form that can be downloaded here. Gift Aid enables us to claim an extra 25p for every pound you donate at no cost to you.
Please Contact Us if you have any specific ideas or wishes how your gift might be used.
We are delighted that Issured, a UK business transformation company, have given their support to our work at Ban Ton Sae.
Not only are the team at Issured providing help with STEF’s marketing and strategic planning, they have also funded the STEF Thailand pick-up, which is vital as we prepare the site for the elephant hospital at Ban Ton Sae. Issured’s Chief Operating Officer, Kiron Bose, and Head of Design & Delivery Services Leanne Carlin, met recently with STEF trustees to discuss further collaboration and cooperation. In announcing the collaboration, Issured’s Chief Executive, Jon Empson, said “Our staff are excited to see the company support STEF. We are all looking forward to working with you and to see the work of this excellent charity thrive to the benefit of the endangered Asian elephant in Thailand”.
We are proud to share the photos of the new pick-up truck, which is currently used by the Chairman of STEF Thailand, Jake Thaotad as project manager of the new development, but the vehicle will later become a mobile veterinary unit once the clinic is open and the veterinarian has been appointed.
As you can read on their website, Issured designs business operations, processes and applications with security and investigation capabilities in mind. They offer a partnership that delivers an end-to-end service from business design to change delivery and workforce training. With extensive experience in digital intelligence and investigation, digital transformation, cyber security, safeguarding and safer cities, they guide customers to real, tangible benefits that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations.
Our thanks to all the staff at Issured for their wonderful support.
The Trustees of STEF are delighted to announce the appointment of a new trustee. Mrs Gillian Newsum joined the Board in June 2019 and brings a wealth of experience to the Charity having previously been a Trustee of the University of Cambridge Veterinary School Trust for nine years, and has been involved in fundraising initiatives for the Addenbrooke’s and Rosie Hospitals in Cambridge. In addition to being a Trustee of STEF, she is a Trustee of the Lujenna Educational Trust, and Chairman of the Cambridgeshire College Riding for the Disabled Group.
Gillian is a graduate of Reading University and spent 20 years as Equestrian Correspondent to Country Life magazine. and has contributed to many other journals and newspapers, covering the major international equestrian events. She is also the author or co-author of 10 books on equestrian subjects and famous horses.
A family visit to Phang Nga Elephant Park in 2018 was the high point in a life-long love of elephants, and intensified her interest in helping the domestic elephants of Thailand. She became fascinated by the STEF Thailand development at Ban Ton Sae and in the ecological approach to the environment in building an elephant hospital to benefit the many hundreds of domesticated elephants in the region.
If you follow us on Facebook you will have read of the sudden, tragic and devastating death of 17-month-old TONKAO on Monday 17 June 2019. This was a terrible loss to STEF trustee and Chair of STEF Thailand, Jakrapob Thaotad, and his colleagues at Phang Nga Elephant Park. The demise of this young, healthy and fun-loving youngster was deeply felt by many people around the world but particularly intensely by those who live and work with Jake and his elephant family.
TONKAO (whose name meant ‘rice seedling’) succumbed to Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), one of the most devastating viral infections affecting young, fit Asian elephants. Scientists remain unclear how elephants get infected by the virus, where the virus persists, and what mechanisms drive the sudden deadly effects of the disease. A Buddhist service was held in her honour and she was buried in a family plot near to the Park.
A campaign has been started in memory of TONKAO to help sponsor the rapid completion of the new STEF Thailand elephant veterinary centre. This clinic will ensure that elephants that are acutely sick receive fast, professional veterinary diagnosis and treatment. At present the nearest dedicated elephant hospital is over four hours’ drive away.
As you know, the building is already underway but we need more money to try and complete it this year to provide lifesaving treatments for the elephant population across the region.
Help make it happen by making a donation to STEF
Isolated locations with no mains electricity supply either have to make do without electricity, or generate their own. For our new veterinary clinic, Southern Thailand Elephant Foundation Thailand have opted for a renewable electricity generation system using solar power to generate the energy needed.
Of course an off-grid system is not the same as being on the mains, but it ensures economy of use, is far cheaper than getting a mains connection, and is much more ecosensitive, as well as being cheaper and quieter than using a petrol or diesel generator. For us, in the peace and quiet of the jungle where we are building a rest home and hospital for elephants it was a no-brainer.
Thanks to the generosity of a very special and generous benefactor, who shares our desire to use renewable energy, we have been able to plan for our needs now as the office and laboratory for the new veterinary clinic are being built. The roof will accommodate the solar panels needed to generate electricity and provide clean energy for lighting, air-conditioning and for the the pump to draw water from the bore hole to the storage tank at the rear of the clinic.
The Phuket-based specialist firm MonoSun Technology has been advising Project Manager, Jake Thaotad, and an appropriate system has now been agreed. The layout, arc of the sun, and compass position of the building where the panels will be fixed are all key elements. We also have to remember that in the rainy season less sun gets through to generate electricity so there needs to be plenty of battery storage and the ability to add more panels or batteries later.
The MonoSun representatives were very interested in our program and took aerial photos of the site, as reported in an earlier blog.
We are convinced this is the right way forward and plan to build renewable energy sources into our plans for other buildings on the site.
Southern Thailand Elephant Foundation
31 Warren Avenue
Richmond upon Thames
Surrey, TW10 5DZ, UK
Registered charity number: 1176322