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.
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 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.
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.
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