New Rescues, New staff, Elephant Blessings and a chance to permanently retire one of our very special ele’s at BEES – We need your help…. BEES biggest fundraiser to date!
Hello BEES Friends,
It has been a massive few months here at BEES, we have been out on research journeys to see other elephants and further educate mahouts and owners, spreading the word of our work and further our knowledge and research. Throughout the last few months we have had a few challenges, have come across some very concerning situations involving both elephants, four and two legged furry/feathery friends, we have seen a lot of abuse and neglect and we are now working to find solutions and ways to improve the living conditions of some of the animals we have seen. Our work here is not easy, we see many disturbing situations and do our best to find solutions to a very complex problem. Their a hundreds of thousands of animals suffering everyday in tourism trade, we MUST do what we can to be their voice!
An update on BEES/BEARS Animal Rescues: April was a big month caring for the new kitten rescues Di-Annie and Steve who were rescued back in March by our mahout who had found in the village and their mother had died, finding an injured young male cat on the start day of the Songkran festival laying helplessly in the middle of the road with weakness in the lower body, naming him Songkran and then a few days later rescuing little Hope a disabled pup from the village who had been hit by a car and had severe fracture of the spine.
In the first week of May two tiny kittens were separated from their mother and dumped in the local fresh vegetable market, P’Gai the owner of the market loves cats, she has several very old cats already. Kittens need a lot of attention and P’Gai knows she can’t give them the care and attention they need as well as care for several very elderly cats. She is one of our most kind and caring rescuers, she does what she can usually capturing the animals, securing them in a cage, gives them food and water and then she calls on us Team BEARS for help, to give the love and care they need and give them a warm home. The most recent rescues from P’Gai are Song See and Sam See.
Songkran rescued on the morning of the start day of the Songkran festival in April from a busy 3 lane road in Chiang Mai, he was very frightened and unable to walk, incontinent and very weak, but after 6 days on anti-inflammatory he began to use the lower part of his body again. Today he still has no use of his tail, but he is able to walk using both hind legs and is building more and more strength everyday. He is still incontinent so he gets sponge baths daily, but we hope given time to heal and lots of tender loving care that he will continue to grown into the beautiful handsome boy we can see he is already becoming.
Little Hope the disabled pup from the village was in a horrible state, she went for an X-ray soon after her rescue which confirmed our thoughts, she has severe deformity of the hind legs, partial rectal prolapse (part of her rectum is on the outside of her anus) and her spine is severely fractured, her spinal cord is severed and darling Hope will never walk again! Her injuries are likely caused by motorbike or car accident. She weighs a tiny 2.6 Kilos and is only about 3 months old. Hope’s quality of life would have been very grim before BEARS had found her, now she spends her days being pampered like a princess, we clean and dress her wounds putting bandages all the way up both legs, keeping her from infection. Just this week her wheels were hand delivered by a volunteer that had collected them from BEES Animal Foundation Australia – BAFA the Australian Team for BEES. She has been getting used to her wheels, but gets tired very easily. She is so little that when she sits to take a break often she doesn’t have the energy to get up again. It’s a whole new world for little Hope. She is such an amazing dog, with such a big heart. She has learned to trust in humans again and is trying to live her life to the fullest.
BEARS barks and meows a HUGE welcome to kittens Di-Annie and Steve, Songkran, Song See and Sam See and Darling Little disABLED pup Hope. All are settling in well to their new home and we are here committed to giving them love and care they deserve.
And just now as I am writing this blog a small wild bird fledgling has just arrived, he is not yet able to fly, I believe they are called Plovers? When I get a chance I will research more. He is now safe in a cage with a soft grass floor bed, some water and with the rains brought loads of flying termites which we sprinkled into the cage and he enjoyed munching them all up! Welcome little fella!
Lenovo Australia’s kind donation:
Recently we received an amazing gift from Lenovo Australia. A brand new Yoga 3 Pro Notebook. We have been having a lot of trouble with our technology and this amazing gift will make life so much easier for the daily communications and running of BEES. In fact, I am using this wonderful gift right now to write this and already life is so much easier.
Thank You Lenovo Australia!!!!
Two New Mahouts join BEES:
In April we welcomed two new mahouts to our Elephant Care Team Eemi and Toohey. Eemi and Toohey both are very excited to be a part of the Team and have been working really well with the other mahouts. They have both previously cared for elephants in camps in the north and are adapting well to the positive care techniques we use at BEES. They are now caring for Mae Kam and Mae Jumpee. Welcome to the Team Eemi and Toohey, thank you for joining us on our journey to improving the future for the elephants!
Elephant Blessings: In the last blog we wrote about the elephants being returned home for elephant blessings during April and we said we would provide an update after we had been, as we had never been or seen an elephant blessing before.
Mae Jumpee the oldest elephant under retirement program at BEES returned to her birth place for 8 days in April for the Elephant Blessings. As previously explained the Blessings ceremony is a way for the families to give thanks to the elephants for their service to the families. At BEES elephants that owners do not wish to sell but want to join the program are under contract, owners usually sign on for one year to begin with and BEES hopes to be able to continue to secure long term contracts as we build friendships. It is the owners right to take the elephants home for these ceremonies, they are not breaking any laws. At BEES we work very hard to improve the situations for the elephants and feel it is important to work together with the owners in order to make a positive difference. We may not personally agree with some cases, but sometimes we have to make compromises in order to do what we can for the individual animals we are trying to help. We feel it’s important to respect the local culture and that if we didn’t agree to this that we would not be able to improve the elephants lives the way we already have been able to achieve.
On the 1st day of the ceremony she was collected in an elephant transfer truck that was also carrying her daughter and two young grandsons aged 5 and 10 years old that are still owned within the family. Their interaction was very touching, she knew exactly who they were and her daughter tried to turn to touch her mother, the whole journey Mae Jumpee touched the genitalia of the other elephants, who knows what they where saying???!!!! We accompanied Mae Jumpee to the village making sure she was okay. When we arrived in the village they offloaded the elephants and gave them some time to find their feet. They where greeted by many village people, Mae Jumpee is the oldest elephant within the villages elephants. The elephants spent a few moments sniffing each other and the area and then they were walked down into the village down to the owners home. When we reached the home the family members welcomed the elephants, standing on the balcony of the home and held out treats of banana, sugarcane, corn and tamarinds for the wondering trunks. Once the elephants had their welcome home treats they had a bath, a drink of water and then they were taken to be secured in the forest. The elephants spent 7 days in the forest on long chains nearby the village being cared for by their owners during this time. During the 7 day period the families brewed their very own Moon shine- Thai whiskey in preparation for the Elephant blessings. There were approx around 15 elephants returned home to the village around this time. We met with some of the owners that day, talked with a number of mahouts and then we returned home. Ringing to check in daily, a friend was staying in the village and was able to check in on Mae Jumpee for us.
On the 7th Day we returned back to Mae Jumpees village early morning, already the human celebrations had begun, whiskey was ready, beer and soft drinks had been served, food was cooking and by 9 am it was time for the elephants to be brought back into the village from the nearby forest and for the families to give thanks to the elephants for their service for the families and pay respects and apologize for any discomfort they have caused the elephants in order to make an income to feed their families. The ceremony took about an hour, all four of the families elephants including Mae Jumpee stood in the same place that they had 7 days prior and where fed a few treats to start the ceremony, the second eldest son who is a joint owner of the elephants began the blessings by taking a bowl of offerings and bowing his head and lightly placing it on top of each elephants head. Then he took a bowl of sacred tamarind water and sprinkled a small amount on each elephants head. After this a beautiful hand-made banana leaf offering with scented flowers wrapped in it was placed on each of the elephants heads with a single tamarind from the scented water offering. (Mae Jumpee spent most of the time trying to eat the blessings). After the tamarind and banana leaf offering was placed on the top of their heads a white confetti was sprinkled on the tops of their heads also – it looked a lot like popcorn pieces – popcorn is used widely in the local area for traditional blessings even for non-animal related ceremonies. All the time chanting and prayer were taking place. Once each elephant had been showered in scented tamarind water, blessed with the banana leaf offerings and sprinkled with the white confetti on the tops of their heads the chanting got quieter but was still heard at a whisper, the man doing the blessings (the second eldest son) placed a line of white cotton down both ears of the elephants. He took another bowl full of offerings and lightly held it up above the elephants heads, bowed his head and did this for each elephant. He chanted more and picked up a fresh green elephant grass stem and began to lightly run the grass over each elephants body. He then returned to the top of the house to pick up a third bowl full of offerings and held it above each elephants heads, lightly resting it against their heads for a moment until all elephants had the offering placed on their heads for the third and final time. Then it was time for the elephants to enjoy a feast of banana, tamarinds, banana tree, fruits and vegetables available in the village and fresh juicy grasses. After this the elephants returned to the forest again for their last evening in the village. The following day we drove out to the village again to meet the transfer truck and bring darling old Mae Jumpee home. She was tired, but after 48 hours rest at BEES, she was back to her normal active self.
Help us SAVE Mae Kam:
We have some really alarming news. Our first elephant to join us at BEES – Mae Kam who has been under retirement contract at BEES is at risk of being returned to a life of slavery, we need your help to stop this from happening and secure her permanent freedom. When elephants joined the retirement program back in the beginning when BEES first started it was for contracts of 1 year in the hopes the owners would continue to extend or eventually would sell us their elephants and retire themselves. The reason we started this way under contractual agreements for long and short term is because 1, we didn’t have the funds or support to buy elephants as they cost the same amount as a very nice vehicle and 2, because owners did not want to sell their elephants.
In Mae Kams 2nd year with us the owner extended her contract with BEES for 2 years. Now, the contract has expired already this year and the owner has decided he does not want to resign the contract. The reason is because he is not happy with Mae Kam. On the 31st of May it will be 3 years since we started walking Mae Kam to BEES. Arriving at BEES on the 1st of June 2012. Mae Kams 3 year ‘retirement day’ is suppose to be the 1st June, but instead we fear we will be grieving because we will have lost the battle to keep her in her sanctuary, instead of celebrating a special time. A few weeks ago the owner came to take Mae Kam back to his village, but clearly she didn’t want to go. In order to get there she had to walk, the owner also decided to harness her up with the trekking basket in order to get her home. Mae Kam was not impressed, she clearly loves sanctuary life and was not happy to be back on the road, walking with the horrible, heavy and very uncomfortable trekking basket.
- Mae Kam is known throughout the region as a ‘dangerous’ elephant because she shakes people off her back, it’s one of the reason’s Mae Kam was retired to BEES, because many years ago her owner had leased her out to the trekking camps where she was being beaten terribly for not doing her job. The owner decided to take her home back in that time as no one wanted to work with her, she was kept on a chain in the forest for nearly 2 years before she was given a chance to walk freely and socialize in a natural environment, a place she now calls home at BEES and has done for the past 3 years.She is not dangerous she needs to be respected and understood, she has her own individual needs and we need to give her love, respect and understanding. –
When the owner decided to take her home for the ceremony a couple of week ago, he harnessed her up with the trekking basket, she immediately changed, she has been in the forest for 3 years and was not used to carrying the basket, she shook violently and her owner fell off from her back. He was sitting on her neck, not in the basket and he first fell backwards and hit his back on the trekking basket and then ended up face first straight onto the ground, his son came back to our house asking us to come quick and Burm drove the owner into the emergency room at the hospital in Maechaem. Our staff immediately removed the basket and checked her over. Thankfully, Mae Kam was fine, she was walked back to her home at BEES, she calmed down immediately, has been here every day since, walking alongside her best friend Mae Jumpee, who she missed dearly when they were separated for 8 days for Mae Jumpee to return home for her ceremony. The owner sustained serious injury to his head and broke a vertebrae, he was moved to 3 different hospital for treatments and further care. He spent a week in hospital, BEES as a kind gesture helped with the hospital bills. Even today, 3 weeks later he is still not well, he has blurred vision, headaches and a sore spine. He has decided he no longer wants Mae Kam because this is a very bad omen for him and his family, he believes it’s a sign that he should no longer keep elephants and the family all agree that they no longer want her. He wants to sell her and he is thinking of selling her to a trekking camp owner to go back to work in the trekking camps. She CAN’T work and DOESN’T WANT to work. We CAN’T let that happen, she is a retired elephant and loves her life at BEES. We have to find a way to secure Mae Kam’s freedom,we can’t let her go without a fight. We will need to find the funds to save her.
On the 19th May, after a few days of negotiating, Mae Kam’s owner agreed to giving us a month to gather the funds, we have been madly setting up a campaign in order to make an easier way for our wonderful supporters to donate towards securing Mae Kam’s freedom. The price is high, after a lot of research and discussion with experienced buyers this is standard price for a trekking elephant with Mae Kam’s visual body condition, she may not be classified as young, but she is strong – because she has had a lot of love and care at BEES- the camps don’t care about age, they don’t consider individual personalities or understand their psychological needs, she is there to do a job and if she doesn’t she will be beaten. We fear for her life and her safety. We MUST save her! Please help us save our beautiful girl, Mae Kam was the start of BEES, she means the world to us! The clock is ticking and we are running out of time, we ideally need to raise the funds in the next 2 weeks as it can take a while for the funds to be released and moved over to Thailand and we need to give the funds to the owner in less than a month!!!. Please spread the word, donate and help us save our beautiful girl! Thank you!
Please help us save Mae Kam and donate today via Just Giving:
Or if you wish to do direct bank transfer: (Please make sure you write what it’s for and send us a PM on facebook to let us know so we can be sure it arrives and send you a thank you)
THAI BANK DETAILS:
ACCT NAME: BEES ELEPHANTS SANCTUARY (BURM AND EMILY)
ACCT #: 419 2 35661 5
SWIFT CODE: KASITHBK
LOCATION: 45 Moo 4 Charoenniran , Amphur Maechaem, Tambon Chang Keung, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50270
AUSTRALIAN BANK DETAILS:
ACCT NAME: BAFA
SWIFT code: AAU3303M
LOCATION: 690 Pittwater Rd, Brookvale 2100 NSW Australia.
Trumpets, Rumbles, Grumbles, Barks, Meows, cheeps and squeaks of Thanks for your kindness and support! Together we can achieve amazing things, let’s make sure Mae Kam continues to have the freedom she deserves!!!!
Emily, Burm and all the Team at BEES Human, Elephant and 2 and four legged friends
All photos © BEES Elephant Sanctuary