Thursday, February 07, 2008

Give ELIE a chance

Mondulkiri's ELIE project
The domestic elephant population of Mondulkiri province is facing an array of threats ranging from habitat destruction, physical abuses, and a widespread lack of facilities providing proper medical supervision and treatment, so an Englishman by the name of Jack Highworth has stepped in to fill the void. He has formed an environmental NGO called ELIE (Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment), with the primary aim of improving the medical and welfare condition of domesticated elephants, most of which belong to the Phnong ethnic minority who constitute about 80% of Mondulkiri's 25,000 inhabitants. Phnong villages owning elephants derive their income primarily from logging, crop cultivation, and small-scale tourism based on elephant trekking. ELIE will be funded by donations and partly through the establishment of an eco-tourist-oriented domestic elephant camp, with a secondary goal of making a village-based elephant camp as a working example for local mahouts. For this original elephant experience, pay a visit to the Elephant Valley Project where you can learn the art of the mahout for a day. Your visit will start with a tour of the project before learning about the body language of elephants, a series of short rides and an elephant-washing session. It'll cost you $50 per person per day including transport, with all proceeds ploughed back into caring for the elephants. Link: ELIE; Email.

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