While the rest of the world slowed down when the pandemic broke, dedicated volunteer community rangers in Thailand continued to risk their lives to reduce conflict between wild elephants and local communities.
One of the biggest threats to wild elephants in Thailand is human-elephant conflict. This occurs when an elephant, usually looking for food, wanders into a village, and destroys crops, houses or equipment. When the villagers inevitably try to drive the elephant away, both human and elephant can be harmed or killed.
One way to mitigate human-elephant conflict is through an ingenious method that began and proved successful in Africa: introducing bees!
Bee-lieve it or not, the imposing eles are scared of bees! So in an attempt to prevent them from roaming onto people's land, projects such as Bring The Elephant Home (BTEH) and Bees For Eles are attempting to introduce bees to the local villages so the eles will be too nervous to step foot near them! Read more on our Bees For Eles page.
Last year, Thailand Elephants funded an irrigation system in Chanthaburi to make the ground fertile enough for plants to grow. These flowering crops will provide a natural source of food for her bees.
In addition, the system has been a huge help to Kung, a local villager whose home was regularly damaged by passing elephants in the past. Kung has also planted chilli and eggplant which she hopes to harvest and sell along with the honey from the beehives.
The crops are grown without any pesticides or herbicides that would kill the bees. Bring The Elephant Home in the process of securing funding to launch an alternative crop planting project at another project site, as this has proven to be a solution that benefits people, elephants, and nature.
However, as student trips and volunteer projects have been cancelled because of covid-19, BTEH's ability to support the volunteer community rangers who patrol the areas who don't yet have irrigation projects in place has been impacted. It costs 450 baht (approx. £12 / $15US) to equip one ranger with a headlamp or hammock to use during night patrol. They are fundraising to purchase headlamps, hammocks, and other essential equipment the rangers need to keep their communities and elephants safe.
There's currently a herd of 70-80 elephants wandering through rubber and palm plantations in one of the communities they're seeking to support - you can see videos and donate on their Facebook page or on their website to help support these awesome projects and people and, of course, the eles!