Sunday, August 26, 2012

Elephant Conservation Network

Back in February, I had the lovely opportunity to visit Kanchanaburi (home to the famous river Kwai) and the wonderful folks of the Elephant Conservation Network (ECN). The purpose of the trip was a knowledge exchange between FREELAND and ECN. A colleague and I were to fulfill the first part of the exchange by providing guidance on how to use camera-traps.

ECN works primarily in the Western Forest Complex. At the time of our visit, ECN had documented elephants leaving Salak Phra Wildlife Sanctuary and conflicting with local people. Cameratraps they had purchased would be used to monitor the situation and, perhaps, identify problem individuals.

FREELAND has a good relationship with ECN and it was a great opportunity to not only help them with their great work, but to also meet some fellow passionate conservationists. I thank them for being such wonderful hosts. To learn more about ECN, please visit

Kanchanaburi is home to an infamous style of coffee affectionately called "Civet Poo" coffee. The coffee berries are eaten by a weasel-like creature called a civet which then pass through its digestive system. It is believed the digestive process enhances the flavor of the coffee bean, which is then cleaned and prepared for brewing. The coffee made from these beans is quite expensive, but I couldn't resist being adventurous and ordering a small cup. I admit, it was quite lovely.

A preliminary meeting at ECN HQ.

Steel boxes to hold the cameratraps, which not only prevent theft, but also ensure protection from any unruly elephants.
A ranger from Salak Phra Wildlife Sanctuary secures one of the camera traps at a pond deep in the reserve.

ECN staff get involved in setting up a cameratrap.
The sun sets upon a substation deep in the wildlife sanctuary.
A plaster cast of a tiger pugmark found in the area.
The sun rises through the trees and bamboo in the sanctuary.
A spotted owlet watches us eat breakfast with a rather skeptical expression.
A small shrine at the substation with two rather impressive guardians.
More lessons on camera trap placement during the second day in the forest. Both ECN staff and local rangers got involved.
The skull of an unfortunate jackal decays in the forest.
Obligatory funtime group photo!
The owlet was probably happy to see us go.
A final dinner with our new friends from ECN on Kanchanaburi's famous river Kwai.
Coffee the next morning... I can verify that the benefits of the coffee did not fall asleep.
A rather strange, but lovely name for a local intersection encountered on the way back to Bangkok.


Unknown said...

Thank you fro sharing your experiences! Phenomenal!

Unknown said...

I love how your blogs are so characteristic of you; informative and very in depth about the topic, but the graceful lace of cleaver observational humor just makes it come alive! I also read all your posts in you voice. It's Tigerrrrrific!