Who We Are:
Emily McWilliam traveled to Thailand as a teen in early 2009 where she experienced firsthand the abuse of elephants in the tourist trade. She was moved to tears at the poor health and living conditions of so many, but the one thing that really touched her was how elderly many of them were, still taking tourists on treks.
Emily made a promise to the elephants – she would personally do something about their plight.
During 2010 discussions of having an elderly elephant rescue and retirement project began to become reality and at just 18 years of age Emily relocated to Mae Chaem where she co-founded BEES with her partner Burm Pornchai Rinkaew, a native Thai, local to the area. Emily had completed her Certificate II and III in Captive Animal Management (3 years training, with Taronga Training Institute) in Sydney, Australia.
Burm Pornchai Rinkaew studied Tourism industry at Rajabhat University and got his degree in Tourism in 2007. He worked and studied at the same time during his university years as a Hotel Receptionist, a Waiter and Tour guide. He has many years of experience with Tourist communications and speaks very good English. Burm is passionate about developing the surrounding community, he has travelled to Australia during the early stages when BEES ideas started to unfold and believes that it has opened up many opportunities for him. Learning the English language and seeing the developing outside world is a lot different to the village he grew up in and the life he had as a boy. He would love to share his knowledge and teach the kids English to give all the young minds of today a better tomorrow. His knowledge, experience and great sense of humor brings positive energy to the project. Burm grew up in Maechaem, an area that had many elephants and he would love to see the old elephants to be retired and to live a better life before their time runs out.
Burm and Emily rent the land the project is located on from Burm’s parents. The village of Mae Tan is Burm’s family village and many people have come together in the makings of BEES.
Burm and Emily purchased their first piece of land in January of 2011 which links onto Burm’s Parents land.
We started by growing crops and then building on our property. Then we started meeting with the locals and raising awareness of Elephant conservation, educating mahouts/owners and becoming involved in the community so we can all work together for change.
What We Do:
We are an Elephant Sanctuary for old, injured and retired Elephants coming on rest or permenant care. Our principals are based on educating both owners and mahouts, as well as the locals,on the elephant situation in Thailand and providing an alternative for owners to retire their elephants to a place they can call home.
We work within the community teaching English to the local village children and anyone that wants to learn. We provide the locals with work and support local businesses such as massage, snack shops, cooks, grass cutters, general maintenance etc. We also grow some of our own seasonal crops on the sanctuary to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Current crops include Thai Guava, Banana, Papaya, Basil, Morning Glory, passion fruits, Tamarinds – just to name a few.
We rescue cats and dogs and give them a safe home at BEES. We also run a rescue, rehabilitation and release for local wildlife program and released 2 owls, A female black headed wood-pecker many small lizards and 7 baby native rats in 2012.