LIFE - Overview

LIFE; Living In the Forest with Elephants represents all LIFE that surrounds the elephants we strive to protect, the people, the forest and all the wildlife dependent on this habitat.

LIFE is our newest project, started in 2018. Read MEF Founder Sarah Blaines heartfelt blog about the journey to starting this project and connecting with the community at LIFE here.

The LIFE community lies very near the border between Thailand and Myanmar in an area which has suffered immense poverty over the years. The village is small with only around twenty households and it shares a stunning forest with 6 other villages. The forest is quite simply remarkable; covering 92,000 acres, 88% of which is classed as Grade One with 12% partly degraded. The captive elephants have a life that we could only dream possible, they roam freely through the forests being checked on by their mahouts once a week or daily if they feel the need.

Without a source of income in Thailand’s rapidly growing economy, people from this village were forced to sell their beloved elephants to the tourism industry.

The future is bright for LIFE Project Community and Elephants

Mokimae Standing with Her auntie and Mother

Because of the our track record of fair and gentle collaboration with other Karen communities, helping them keep their elephants in the forest, the LIFE community asked for help to save their remaining elephants. MEF are currently supporting 3 elephants at LIFE project with the aim of supporting more in the future as the project grows.

We are still in the seed phase of LIFE project. The community is extremely remote and in the first year we have been investing in training sessions, infrastructure improvements, and educational initiatives to prepare the community to meet the rigorous Tourism Authority of Thailand Homestay Standard. We are pleased to announce that in December 2018 the community was awarded homestay certification! This is a huge achievement for the community and our team. The community is beyond thrilled at the prospect of being able to support their elephants and forest from ecotourism that honors their rich traditions and culture.

A Key Focus of LIFE Community is Preserving their magnificent forest. Through grant funding from the European Outdoor Conservation Association they have planted 6775 trees and have a sapling nursery with 20750 saplings, which will be ready to plant next year. The LIFE project land borders Mae Tuen Wildlife Sanctuary and Mae Ping National Park. The government team at Mae Tuen Wildlife Sanctuary is keen to collaborate on release of species into the LIFE project land which will be a priority in the future with more funding.


Life Project Needs Support to Grow

LIFE project is in its early stages and needs more infrastructure investment urgently, it is likely two years’ from being self-sufficient. It would be wonderful to achieve this by the end of 2020.

  • Vehicles – the greatest need at this time, as no one in the village has a working car that can bring guests to and from the project as well as help to transport staff. Local people also have little access to reliable transportation to get to school and access medical care which can lead to life or death situation
  • Lodges and furnishings – people in this community are keen to host guests for meals and activities but this requires separate free-standing guest accommodations in the form of small lodges dispersed around the village. Explore Generously sponsored our first lodge which will highlight their support permanently at our project. Each additional lodge we estimate to cost between £5,000-£6,000 in capital costs.
  • Meeting House - A central meeting location that can be used by guests, researchers and community members. Approx. £8,000.00.
  • Salary for an English teacher - English speaking is a required component to get into the better schools and provides a gateway to better opportunities for the village, who are desperate for a teacher. An English teacher’s salary and accommodation would total approximately £10,000 per annum.
  • Research Equipment - The elephants at LIFE project are sometimes so far away or residing with wild elephants that researchers can’t access them. A series of camera traps and GPS equipment are needed to capture the lives of the elephants as well as document the wildlife in the area. Camera traps cost between £150-300 and we require upwards of 50 to survey the vast LIFE forests.

How you can help the community at LIFE Project:

As a charity, we depend on the generosity of our supporters to meet the growing needs our communities face, every little bit helps us to reach out goals and support more mahouts and elephants.

When you become a sponsor, you will receive a welcome letter signed by Mahouts Elephant Foundation Co-Founder Sarah Blaine, a photograph of your chosen elephant taken by a professional wildlife photographer and a sponsor certificate. You will also receive exclusive quarterly sponsor updates on your chosen elephant and hold the knowledge that you have made a difference for your sponsored elephant.

By sponsoring one or more of our elephants, you will be contributing to providing for their daily needs - All funds go towards keeping the elephants in the forest and we cannot do this without your help. Each elephant requires a mahout and they need a salary each month – their role is demanding and requires extended periods out in the forest. We pay decent wages to ensure they are able to take care of their families.

Fundraise For Us! - Interested in hosting an event? Get in touch with or if you are a UK resident you can create your own fundraiser for us on Justgiving

Follow us on social media and help spread the word!

You can catch us on