Alternative Livelihoods and Elephant Rescue in Thailand

Brining Asian elephants back to the forest.



Elephants in Thailand are often exploited in the tourist industry, made to live in tourist camps and used as a tool in street begging. This is a cruel and unnatural life for the elephants. The mahouts are often also in difficult positions with very little alternative options.

This project offers the mahouts a way to bring their elephants back to the forests where they belong. The elephants are then free to live in peace, as it was intended, in the forest. The mahouts join our education and alternative livelihood programme. This approach ensures that both the elephants and their mahouts get the best possible outcome.

We have partnered with Think Elephant International (TEI) and will work alongside them in hosting conservation education programmes at schools and in the local villages. We will also assist their mission by carrying out elephant behaviour and cognition experiments.

We are currently able to support 3 elephants and their mahouts on a yearly basis.

Hours that an elephant will spend foraging everyday

Aches is the size of the forest that our elephants call home

kg of food that an elephant eats in a typical day

The Challenge

Street begging and working in tourist camps significantly reduces the life expectancy of these endangered species. It diminishes their high cultural importance and places individuals in inhumane living conditions. Working elephants are waiting to join our forest reintroduction program and funds are desperately needed to facilitate this. Mahouts and owners join our education and alternative livelihoods program along with their elephants to ensure they have a sustainable alternative form of work.

The Solution

Living in natural, social herds in the forest has a tremendous impact on elephant’s psychological health. It also provides them with a balanced diet and dramatically increases their life expectancy. No longer forced to work, these elephants will live longer and happier lives alongside their mahouts. We plan to host a sustainable, breeding population of elephants living naturally in the forest. Each new elephant that joins the rescued herd increases chances of long-term success for this growing population of elephants in the forest. With TEI, we observe the elephants to better understand their behaviour and help mitigate human/elephant conflict. We also teach children about elephants and conservation issues that effect them.

Make Your Donation

Give to our wildlife conservation fund today and help Asian elephants live a better life.

“I feel happy. GVI and The GVI Trust have given me, my family and friends jobs and incomes. My elephant, Lulu, previously worked in a tourist camp performing tricks and The GVI Trust has allowed me to bring her back to the village to live within the beautiful nature surrounding Huay Pakoot.”

Suwit Nantwani

Mahout to Lulu, living freely for 4 years