Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation
The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), was set up in 2006 to improve the plight of Thailand’s elephants, and has since been diversified to include welfare projects that incorporate broader philanthropic and cultural objectives with unprecedented success.
Anyone who has visited Thailand will be familiar with the Kingdom’s reverence for its elephants. Once the country’s esteemed logging workforce, these two tonne beauties remain sacredly associated with royalty, and to this day take pride of place in parade festivities. Yet, despite the strong bond between Thai people and their nation’s most genteel species, there are still a worrying number of elephants forced to walk the city streets to make their mahout a miserly living by begging from tourists.
In an ideal world all elephants would live in the wild and there would be no need to discuss elephants' work. But until that point is reached, the GTAEF also aims to create and promote ethical work for the elephants and mahouts that are capable, whilst providing care for those that are unable.
The GTAEF is overseen by John Roberts, Director of Elephants at Anantara Golden Triangle’s on-site Elephant Camp. On most days you’ll find Roberts taking the babies of the elephant herd under his trust down to the river for their ritual bathing antics, leading treks through the resort’s lush 160 acre forest, or lending his experience to the mahout training programmes. Yet these playful pastimes belie inspirational achievements that support Thailand’s pachyderm population, and far beyond.
Under Roberts’ passionate helm, over 30 elephants have been rescued from Thailand’s city streets, accompanied by their entire mahout family. English lessons are arranged for the mahouts and their wives, education is made available for their children, and a silk worm business provides the wives with 100% of the profits made from the sales of their wares at the resort boutique.
In addition to performing street rescues, the GTAEF cooperates with the Thai government and other organisations in 'bigger picture' projects.
In terms of elephant welfare, Anantara Golden Triangle’s resident veterinarian, Cherry Keratimanochaya, who is responsible for the health and wellbeing of the camp elephants, also lends her expertise to the TECC (Thai Elephant Conservation Centre) Elephant Hospital for two weeks every month – a charitable contribution which is even more valuable, considering that there are only 30 elephant vets in the whole of Thailand.
To enrich and sustain local culture, Anantara Golden Triangle’s Elephant Camp lends elephants for local religious and cultural festivals, as well as offering outreach initiatives to local schools, bringing children into contact with elephants and therefore serving to deepen the understanding and knowledge of Thailand’s next generation.
In addition, the foundation is now working on becoming a research centre in association with several Thai and foreign universities, and most notably in a ground breaking Thai Elephant Therapy Project run by Chiang Mai University to provide elephant assistant therapists for autistic children.
To join the fundraising efforts, donations can be made via ‘Friends of Conservation’ in the USA friendsofconservation.org/GoldenTriangle.htm or through the charity administrator John Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.