KJEF Mission Statement
Ecological stewardship achieved through positive and practical action with a strong focus on education and community outreach.
Kwan Jai Elephant Foundation is a New Zealand registered charity (CC55323) Founded in 2017 by Jack Lanting. It supports an elephant conservation and education project that aims to take positive and practical action in an effort to influence real change and improvement for the elephants of Thailand , both captive in the tourist industry and those in the wild, with an integrated approach that will combine:
o a hands off approach that will afford elephants space to find their own, true character
o acquiring and returning deforested land to a natural state for the projects elephant inhabitants
o protection, rejuvenation and support of existing wild elephant habitats
o implementation of sustainable and effective measures to reduce human-elephant conflict - for example, beehive fencing
o a dedicated student education program with scholarships for local youth who will work with elephants directly or indirectly in the future
o empowerment and participation of the local community
o families enabled to stay together through employment
o support of families who fall victim to elephant pillaging, offering produce from our gardens and orchards
o sustainable, permaculture practise and farming co-operative facilitation
o encouraging crop alternatives such as coffee that increase incomes, repel elephants and require forest canopies to stay in place
o a zero waste project
Taking action for elephants in need
KJEF will take action for elephants in need, bearing in mind the Foundation does not wish to contribute to the elephant trade. Purchasing elephants at exorbitant prices creates wealthy owners that in turn are capable of increasing the number of elephants in the tourist industry. Therefore the Foundation will only ever lease elephants, providing owners with long term regular incomes. To help safe guard elephants from being removed from the Project and re-entering the tourist industry, incentives such as employment contracts with multiple family members of elephant owners will be entered into, but will be dependent on elephants remaining with KJEF.
With reforestation efforts and a strict, hands-off policy for visitors, KJEF will do its best to provide an environment for its captive elephants that is as close as possible to what elephants enjoy in the wild.
In addition the Foundation and all of its employees will work carefully within Thai law. With a focus on building solid and positive relationships with government agencies, the hope is that in the future KJEF can work alongside the government on projects
‘Kwan Jai Elephant Foundation’ (KJEF) has identified that education is essential in securing the future of elephants both wild and captive. Through its programs the project aims to raise awareness, particularly among tourists, about the unethical treatment of elephants (all animals) living in captivity. Armed with knowledge participants will be in a better position to make animal-friendly choices when partaking in elephant (animal) experiences throughout Asia and indeed throughout the world.
Programmes will also include practical components such as getting involved with the local community in its schools and with crop planting – both alongside farmers and through the installation of wild elephant abatement measures. In addition, participants can study the movements of wild elephants, build water reservoirs and gather research data from within the jungle, to help identify where the Project can best place its resources and time. There will also be opportunities to care for the Project’s captive elephants, observe them from afar, up-cycle packaging and elephant waste products, pot seedlings and plant trees.
A dedicated education program developed specifically to the needs of educational groups will further build on the Foundation’s fundamental values of education. This part of the Project will see a portion from every student’s payment go towards fully funding the participation of indigenous and Thai students. These students are ultimately those who will benefit the most from the Project, with the greatest chance of influencing change from within their own country.
In addition to the Foundation’s Facebook page, there will be a second, closed Facebook page for students who have been involved with the Project, on site or through outreach visits or Skype. In the hope that he can inspire a desire to protect elephants, all animals and the environment, Jack Lanting will manage this page, mentoring students and giving them the opportunity to be a part of real change.
Further avenues for education include a dedicated and planned social media program, production of the Foundation’s own conservation film projects and workshops in editing and film making that pass on knowledge and skills to future film makers, who will become the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Deforestation, degradation, and fragmentation of their natural habitat have been identified as the cause of many problems wild elephants are currently facing. KJEF intends to initially lease a large parcel of deforested land, with a view to reforest for its elephant inhabitants over a time frame of 3-5 years as the Project establishes itself. A 10-15 year plan aims to see the land it sits upon purchased and further additions made to the property portfolio, when funds and allotments become available. Land purchased by the Foundation will be protected by legally- binding agreements that restrict its future sale in order to maintain good stewardship of the land in perpetuity.
Only once KJEF Project is on a stable footing and has gained the trust of its community, can it look at reforestation efforts outside of its boundaries. KJEF hopes to partner with a trusted local or existing Thai reforestation project, making sure to engage and understand the perspective of local community leaders - in order to have a lasting impact, they must be a part of the solution.
The ecological restoration of Elephant Habitat is as complicated as community engagement, perhaps more so. KJEF has engaged the services of a well-respected permaculture consultant with landscape restoration and local ecological expertise, to ensure the ecosystem is balanced.
KJEF's experienced elephant trackers, along with Project volunteers, will study wild elephant movements to determine their migratory routes, where, when and why they are exiting their habitat, and monitor the availability of water within the jungle during the drought season. Armed with this information KJEF can then plan how best to protect the habitat of wild elephants and the elephants themselves.
Creating buffer zones for wildlife, building reservoirs within the jungle to retain water, improving the health of elephant habitats, cultivating green corridors to rivers and streams and implementing measures such as beehive fencing around unacceptable exits - a more suitable habitat for elephants can be sustained, thus encouraging elephants to remain in protected areas and diminishing human - elephant conflict.
Empowering local communities to improve elephant conservation
The definition of ‘empowerment’ refers to the process of enabling one to increase control over their lives. Family, wealth, employment, education, health and the environment have all been identified as important factors that support the quality of life and the general well-being of individuals and the community and ‘allowing empowerment to occur.’
For conservation to succeed, the community needs to be empowered.
KJEF will provide employment for 40-60….potentially limitless over future years and decades with true fair, trade remuneration for time worked and produce sold. Monetary desperation sees many families forced apart in Thailand where one or both parents live many hours’ drive away from their children; often receiving just one half day off per week, or in some cases no days at all. Time together becomes a rare occasion for families. A pro-family organisation, KJEF intends to employ entire inter-generational families. This, in combination with regular days off, will afford our employees the luxury of spending quality time together with their loved ones.
Between giving English lessons and speaking practice at local schools and for our staff, along with up-skilling opportunities, KJEF hopes to raise the future employment and income prospects of its staff, their families and those living in its surrounding community.
Permaculture will play a pivotal part in the Project, not only for its own needs and for reforestation efforts, but also in its social responsibilities. There is no welfare system or retirement in Thailand and the elderly and disabled without family to support them, beg to survive on a daily basis. KJEF intends to identify vulnerable people in its community with a view to allowing them free access to its vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. The project will also share its excesses with those who have lost crops to wild elephant invasion, and to staff and their families.
To those looking in, wild elephants are a treasure. To those who live beside them and can barely survive on what they grow, the reality for many is, these animals are a pest that threatens their lives and their livelihoods.
The “Sustainable Environmental Regional Project’ (SERP) is a long-term initiative that intends to encourage local farmers to grow high-end value produce such as coffee, cacao and avocados under the sustainable and eco-friendly practice of permaculture. Participating farmers will receive cash incentives to purchase seeds and materials, training, support, better markets for produce, help with implementing effective wild elephant abatement measures and the facilitation of a self-managed co-operative that gives its members greater selling powers. In exchange, the intention is that farmers will sign an agreement to reforest a portion of their land and refrain from applying harmful pesticides, herbicides and deadly poisons to their land.
Through improvements in the economic welfare of the community and marked reductions in human/elephant conflict, it is hoped humans and elephants can live in greater harmony - becoming a benefit rather than the inconvenience they are currently perceived as.