Tigers, Elephants and Ivory in Thailand

© Kyle Dickman

The EP crew is getting wild in Thailand this week! They’ve spent the last few days hanging out with tigers and riding elephants in the forest. But it’s not all fun for the crew, we’re here to start field work for the Elephant Ivory Project — an expedition with the goal to save wild elephants from the illegal ivory trade.

This fall, we will team up the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington to complete a DNA map of illegal ivory poaching hotspots. By completing this map, scientists will be able to pinpoint where illegal ivory is coming from and send resources to stop it in those areas. For that expedition, we’re venturing to a too dangerous and remote for scientists to travel — the Democratic of Congo.

Ivory in Bangkok. © Kyle Dickman

But before we make that trip, we need to research where the illegal ivory is being sold… And that’s why we’re in Thailand.

Day one in Bangkok and I’ve already been offered ivory. The EP team is in the epicenter of it all. While China consumes more as a whole, Bangkok is the largest ivory market in Asia — with most of that ivory coming from African elephants.

A few days in Bangkok and we can see that the ivory trade is booming. Elephants are being killed by poachers at a rate of 10 percent per year. With just 470,000 elephants left in the world, it means that in just a few years we might lose our wild elephant populations.

We’re determined to stop that from happening. But in order to be successful, we have to know what we’re up against — that means researching the ivory trade in the city and talking to the folks who are leading the conservation effort… And of course meeting some of these amazing animals that we’re trying to save.

To find elephants, we had to get out of Bangkok’s bustling streets, so we drove into the country and ended up finding plenty of elephants and even a few tigers.

Kyle and his Ele-friend. © Kyle Dickman

On our way home that evening, we met a man taking his elephants out into the forest to eat and he let us take a ride. Elephants are amazing creatures — intelligent, gentle and powerful. It’s heartbreaking to know that more than 100 elephants are killed by poachers everyday. But it’s not hopeless. In 1989, with a global upwelling of support, the ivory trade was stopped, nearly overnight. We can do that again.

So, what can you do?

Visit www.elephantivoryproject.org to learn more. Knowledge is power. More than 100 elephants are killed every day by poachers. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Support our project to save elephants from the ivory trade. 100% of your donation will go directly to the expedition and it’s 100% tax-deductible. You have no excuse! Let’s save some elephants!

Don’t buy ivory! The U.S. has the 2nd highest demand for ivory. If you buy ivory, you’ve killed an elephant. Nuff said.

Stay tuned for more from Thailand soon!

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~ by epicocity on February 10, 2010.

3 Responses to “Tigers, Elephants and Ivory in Thailand”

  1. You seem to genuinely like animals, so it was surprising to see a picture of you (i assume) at the Tiger Temple. See http://www.careforthewild.com/files/TigerTemplereport08_final_v11.pdf This is nothing but a money making scheme and has nothing to do with conservation or wildlife protection but a lot to do with cruelty.

    • Yes, we quickly realized how weird the Tiger Temple is when we found out that it wasn’t established for animal rehabilitation reasons. Didn’t know anything about cruelty, but certainly got a weird vibe. Then we stumbled upon a young man taking his elephant out into the forest on his property for an evening meal, and things got much more positive.

  2. Andy:
    I could not help but be fascinated by the remarks from one of your responders. How misinformed and ignorant can that responder be. Doesn’t h/she realize that without the conservatory efforts which you, Kyle, etc. are undertaking there would be NO wild animals left for the PETA organization members to protest maltreatment. I’m assuming the responder is a PETA member. Don’t be dismayed by myoptic, shortsighted critique of your work. Darwin had his distractors too!!!!! I wish you and the team continued safe journies and scientific success.
    If possible, I would appreciate having several expedition photos if journalistic ownership rights make that possible.
    Your godfather
    PS/ As I send this I’m looking out at several feet of snow and enormous drifts as the winds continue to blow.

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