Hello BEES Friends,
As always we have been keeping busy and A LOT has happened since our last blog back in October 2014. Wow, we have had a whirl wind of a start to our New Year! We have been working away further building the elephant medical shelter, in November we were left shaken after the sudden passing of our dear Uncle Thong Inn a very important member of our family, the arrival of The Golden Girls from Mae Hong Son, more animal rescues, Christmas with our villagers and poorly elephants in the New Year with intestinal impactions and the Mother elephant Kham Mee and her Calf Boon on the rest and care program having to be rushed to the elephant hospital after Boon had a severe allergic reaction to what was believed to be caused by ingesting a toxic plant or animal/insect.
We have definitely been kept on our toes and have lots of updates! So Grab a cup of Tea and a biscuit! Enjoy!
Firstly, apologies for not blogging for some time now, we have been changing over our website host and had difficulties gaining access during the transfer, we then had technical difficulties with receiving emails as so many wonderful new people flooded our email server with enquiries and message of support and it crashed and then finally we got it fixed , then we got caught up in the normal busy BEES work and on top as your all aware have very poor internet connectivity.
Mae Kam grazing at the edge of the forest
Rescued Animals at BEES/ BEARS update:
Sadly, over the last few months we have lost many cats to road accidents. It is so heart breaking and even though many people are saying we give them the best life, it’s still so hard to have to bury our fury babies because we love each and everyone of them like our family, we can’t understand why they want to play on the road!
At Burm and Emily’s Animal Rescue and Shelter – BEARS – we provide a home to all animals in need. We provide sterilizations, vaccinations, a good diet, medicine, trips to the vet if needed when ill and a warm loving home and shelter to cats and dogs. We don’t just limit our program to cats and dogs, if we find any wildlife we run a rehabilitation and release program and release them wherever possible. We have successfully released numerous species of birds, to name a few 2 species of Owl – Asian Barred Owl, Oriental Bay Owl, A Female Blackheaded wood pecker, A White Throated KingFisher, many garden lizards and lots of bush rats.
Currently, We have a Brown Wood Owl Fledgling that we are rehabilitating for release. He has grown so much in the last 3.5 weeks since his rescue. The Owl has many names – Baby, Kitty, Natashaaaa and Owly! He is eating raw chicken and lots of blood and guts that is good to keep him growing strong, he has also been eating up little shrews the naughty cats have been hunting and has been eating cicadas and crickets. He still isn’t using his feet to clean his mouth so we have been removing anything that may scratch his throat or cause his to choke. He also does not appreciate anything moving around in his enclosure lizards, beetle or otherwise. We hope he is just young and his instincts are yet to kick in. We want him to go back to the wild where he belongs flying free!
In December we rescued a white pup, who we named Snow, he was in the temple and dragging his hind right leg behind him. We took him for x-rays and the vets continued to tell us that he had nerve damage and with massage and time he would heal. After 2.5 months of watching this poor dog struggle and his leg becoming severely infected down to the bone we finally found a vet that would remove the leg and could see that it needed to come off. Our Beautiful Boy Snow is doing very well, running around on 3 legs and so much happier!
Since the New Year we rescued another dog named Whan Whan and run another sterilization day for BEES cats, sterilizing 7 cats and have been back at the temple cats project in Chiang Mai and are preparing for another sterilization day.
Our next fundraising goals for BEARS are more land for cats and dogs, building a cat house to bring the cats home at night and lock them in and near future raise funds for further sterilization programs. It is also a big dream to have the funds needed in order to build a fully equipped animal hospital in Maechaem and hire veterinary staff from abroad and locally to provide assistance on a bigger scale to the animals in our area!
If you would like to support the efforts of BEARS, please make a donation via PayPal by entering Beesfundraiser@hotmail.com into PayPal – enetering in the subject line what its for e.g. Donation: BEARS Cat House, Donation: BEARS Projects etc The word Donation or Donation for MUST be in the subject line. Thank you!
Elephant Medical Shelter building progress:
Since October we have been chugging along building the Elephant Medical Shelter at BEES. If you have been following Facebook you will see how far it has come along. 😉 We have had a few delays, including not being able to purchase building supplies as the warehouse has been out of stock and then this caused set backs with transport vehicles and our workers have not been available when resources arrive.
Fortunately, we are back on track as the workers have been free and we have been firing ahead. The main roof is complete, the roof for the behind medical storage room will be commencing in the next week and the cement floor is almost down. Some of you may wonder why it is taking so long?! Here in rural Thailand we are located nearly 3 hours drive from the supplies needed to build and we also do mostly everything by hand, so our staff and workers have been laboring away collecting bucket loads of sand, carrying big bags of cement back and forth and mixing the cement in large buckets by hand. It’s a slow, hot, sweaty and exhausting process, but we are so pleased with all the Team effort going into the building, some of our volunteers have even been getting in and lending a helping hand carrying heavy buckets, lifting cement bags and helping mix and lay cement…. Thank you to all our volunteers who have been helping with the shelter! Although, it is a hot and hard job it is totally worth it, as the finished Medical Shelter will bring safety to the elephants, vets and staff when examining and providing treatments for the elephants, it will provide a nice cool, quiet place when elephants are unwell, it will be clean, hygienic and store all the important medicines and food treats for the elephants.
Thank you to each and every one of you, who donated towards the building of the Medical Shelter, for sharing our campaign and supporting our important work here in Thailand. We are excited for the completion of the shelter and will definitely post pictures on Facebook to keep you updated.
The Golden Girls Thong Dee and Boon Yuen, Poor digestion in older elephants and settling in:
Thong Dee and Boon Yuen, The Golden Girls from Mae Hong Son needed a place to retire too. Their owner Poor Tawee felt he had nowhere else for them to go, he had heard great things about BEES and the work we do with elephants, mahouts and owners of elephants in our region. Poor Tawee’s Father passed away in October leaving his family very shocked and his Mother with no one to care for her. Poor Tawee had been with his Golden Girls for near 30 years, it wasn’t an easy decision to leave them but he felt he had a responsibility to be by his Mother’s side. He thought his girls had worked long enough and he wanted them to have a safe place and be well looked after.
When an owner retires their elephants it can take them a while to find their feet and they lose a huge source of income, this is one reason why many elephant owners work the elephants to death as they see no other alternative.
Poor Tawee told us of his dreams to move his small organic Lemon/Lime tree orchard to his new home and build a new life with his wife and to be able to care for his mother. Of course, we thought it was a brilliant idea to set up an organic lemon/lime tree orchard, How cool is that?!! and reassured him that every elephant that comes to BEES under contract we provide owners with an alternative income, an income in which they would have earned if they continued to work their elephants in the camps, sometimes more then what they would have earned. This gave him the confidence and the push he needed to start his new business, turning it to be a source of income and no longer just a hobby!
We only had a few short weeks before he had prepared everything and was ready to set off on his new journey creating a new life in his Mothers village, his original home town – leaving his Golden Girls behind. He needed funds straight away to assist with transport of his seedlings and all of his belongings, so we had to act fast.
Well, we reached our fundraising goals in record timing!
Thank you to each and every person who donated to retire the Golden Girls to BEES in such a short amount of time, an incredible 4,200AUD was raised, which meant that we had the funds needed to transfer the Golden Girls, provide their owner with 6 months wage so we he could transfer his belongings to his new home and he could start up his organic Lemon/Lime Orchard, provide the first few months wage to their new carers and general elephant medical/ daily care expenses here at BEES.
During the time the Golden Girls were due to be moved we faced a few challenges, our head elephant carer – mahouts child Glaycee fell very ill and on the same day Glaycee was admitted into hospital with Typhoid our dear Uncle Thong Inn was brought into the emergency, he had collapsed and was not breathing, the doctors tried everything they could to revive him but it was too late. His passing happened so very suddenly, we were all in shock and absolute devastation. That day we lost our friend and a key member of our family and our community. The thought of not seeing Uncle Thong Inn’s smiley face every day brings tears to our eyes, we will always hold him close in our hearts, he was a big part of Mollie our disabled dogs rescue, alerting us to her situation and loved to check in on her at least 3 times a week after she was settled. Every time I look at Mollie I will think of him.
The Golden Girls owner decided he wanted to spend a little bit more time with his girls and sent his wife and their dog to stay with his Mother while he spent his a few days prior to their move with them, the day of their move we heard him singing to them and telling them he loved them and he was sorry to have to say good bye. We have never met an owner quiet like Poor Tawee, he is a kind and gentle man and has a remarkable relationship with his elephants, he can call from over 50 meters away and they will come, follow and always recognize him. They come straight to see him when he visits and when both girls have had intestinal impactions he has either been out to check or providing guidance over the phone.
The Golden Girls grazing in the grassfields at BEES
Thong Dee and Boon Yuen – The Golden Girls arrived at BEES on the 22nd November 2014. They were able to stretch their legs on BEES soil, soak their feet in the refreshing stream, spray mud and dust, eat fresh green grasses and natural fodder to their hearts desire and be able to interact freely without hindrance of chains during the day.
Since January our 3 oldest girls, The Golden Girls and Mae Jumpee a 70 year old elephant in the Retirment program have all had blockages and poor movement through the digestive tract. Both Golden Girls have very abnormal dung which indicates very poor digestive systems and worn/no teeth, the dung is compact, very long and not very well broken down. We are slowly changing their diets which we hope will improve their digestive systems and make it easier to pass their dung, we have never seen dung so abnormal, an elephants dung is a very important indicator of an elephants overall health, usually passing several round solid stools at a time, it is clear that Thong Dee and Boon Yuen are suffering from very damaged digestive tracts and we are working to improve this to make them as comfortable as possible. The vets came to check the Golden Girls and have agreed that the older elephants in our care are aged and have worn teeth and systems, needing dietary changes/adjustments to a higher amount of finer chopped easily digestible food sources and less large solid foods, so we have been taking extra measures to ensure they get a good balanced diet, well chopped banana trees, grass and corn, chopped soft fruits and lots of peeled tamarinds. We have also sourced a food shredder which we hope to be picking up later this week, which should lighten the load for the Mahouts and also shred the food better then chopping.
The Golden Girls have both settled into their new home very well. They have had a few tiffs with Mae Kam who is a very cheeky elephant also retired at BEES. Mae Kam is in charge and her best friend Mae Jumpee is her friend and she doesn’t want to share.
In the months to follow after the Golden Girls arrived time has flown by very quickly we can hardly keep up! We have had serious winter chills and a dramatic change in season over the last 3 months, with temperatures ranging from 22-25’C in the day time and evenings dropping as low as 6’C throughout December, January and then towards the end of February the temperatures began to soar reaching 35’C or more and staying at 25-30’C in the evenings. The cool weather and dramatic changes in temperature can make the elephants feel unwell. This year our dear friend and supporter Karyn Steele made homemade blankets to keep the eles warm which has sparked an international interest in getting all the old elephants at BEES custom made coat Jackets that are being made by the Goat Coat Shop in the US and the wonderful Friends of Lucy Team are running a fundraiser to raise the amount needed to order and ship the coats. Thank you Friends of Lucy!
Boon Yuen’s blockage back in February was a whopping 9.5kg, but in March her friend Thong Dee passed an even bigger blockage of 11kg! This is not good, we have ordered inr 3/4 of a Tonne of Tamarinds to act as laxative and fed everyday and are buying in a food shredder so they dont have to do to much work chewing the foods and breaking them down.
A few times now we have mentioned about the elephants from Karen Hill tribe under retirement contracts at BEES being returned home for a short period of time every few years so they can be blessed and the families can pay respects and give thanks for their service and the income the elephants have earned to feed their families. In May it will be 3 years since retiring Mae Kam and in August it will be 3 years since retiring Mae Jumpee and during April the families of both elephants believe it is a good time to return them to their villages for the tradition Karen Hill tribe ceremony. Gee Ju – Karen translation or Chang Mut Muu Suu Kwam – Thai Translations . We believe they will be home for the first part of April and then will return to the retirement program at BEES! We a have never been apart of these ceremonies and the families have invited us to be a part of their blessings, we hope we will be able to shed some light on the tradition after going.
On March 3rd 2014 Mae Jumpees owner Poor Kratuu passed away after a long time battling with health problems and an unhealthy Kidney, he was her owner for her whole life, Poor Kratuu was nearly 5 years old when she was born and he loved her. Mae Jumpee now 70 years old is very much loved by her whole family who are from the Karen Hilltribe, they have had elephants in their family and home village for generations and every few years an incredible event takes place, all the elephants from the family are returned home to the village for a blessing ceremony to thank the elephants for the work and service they provide for the families. Poor Kratuu expressed the importance of the ceremony for the family to give thanks, blessing the spirit of the elephants and that it brings good health and good luck to the villagers and wards off bad spirits. It was his dying wish that his beautiful old girl Mae Jumpee’s owners return to her village of birth one more time to be reunited with her family for the ceremony and for her human family to be able to bless her and give thanks to her for providing their family with an income to survive.
At BEES we work with elephant owners to provide an alternative income for them to feed their families in return for their elephants to stop work and join us at BEES having the ability to be elephants, rest, receive treatment and care. We have long-term contracts for older elephants and short-term contracts for younger elephants and elephants requiring treatment that are not so severe cases and don’t need to stay in the elephant hospital, but need a place to rest and receive medical care. Of course, we hope the elephants under the short term contracts on rest and care will be allowed to stay with us and that the owners will eventually no longer feel the need to take the elephants home for the ceremonies, but that is for the owner to decide and by law it is their right!
We MUST respect their ways and work in harmony with the people, building friendships made with respect and understanding.
The only way forward is to work together with owners of elephants and mahouts, to provide alternatives where the owners needs are met and the elephants are removed from work, have the ability to roam and socialize, be free from abuse and exploitation and receive the love and care they need and deserve.
Darling 70 year old Jumpee peeping through the shrubs on a forest walk!
Kham Mee and Boon the Mother and Calf on the Rest and Care Program:
Back in June last year we all opened up our hearts and our arms to a beautiful Mother and her Calf, Kham Mee and Boon: Please refer to the blogs from the 6th July 2014 and 21st August 2014. http://www.bees-elesanctuary.org/?p=1103 http://www.bees-elesanctuary.org/?p=1128
Kham Mee and Boon’s owner contacted us to ask for help to treat his calves eye which was very sore and infected after he had spiked his eye running about in the forest. We called the Veterinarians from the Thai Elephant Conservation Center out to the owner’s village to assess the situation and after a lot of discussion the decision was made it would be best to move Kham Mee and Boon to BEES in a stress free environment so that Boon could undergo a treatment program and receive care at BEES and his mum Kham Mee could have a good rest.
It is now over 8 months since they joined the Rest and Care Program they are a both healthy and strong. Boon’s eye sight in the damaged eye couldn’t be saved due to the severity and impact of the bamboo penetrating the eye, but we have cleared infection and his eye is no longer causing him pain.
Back in early February Boon gave us quiet the scare, he had a severe decline in health during the day. Angae the carer said around lunch time Boon was grazing by his Mother’s side (at this young age he is only starting to learn how to eat real foods and starting to move away from fulltime suckling) when he let out an unbelievably loud roar. Boon has also been developing his vocalization skills, so Angae initially thought nothing of it, but then Boon continued getting louder and more frequent, Angae was very worried and brought them home from the forest. By the time they reached home Boon’s tongue was swelling, he was unable to eat or drink and Kham Mee was becoming very aggressive. We called out the vets from the Thai Elephant Conservation Center Hospital, assessing Boon it was believed he ingested a toxic plant/animal whilst foraging with his mother that caused a severe allergic reaction. The vets administered antihistamine and said we need to monitor him over night. When morning came Boon had not responded to medication, he was growing weak, he had not been able to eat anything for over 12 hours and the vets feared it may have been the deadly virus EEHV –Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus. The owner of Kham Mee and Boon arrived and the decision was made to call the emergency transport to move them to the TECC hospital to receive support there. When loading them onto the truck Kham Mee become very protective of Boon and destroyed the back gate of the truck tearing her mouth and damaging her head. When they reached the hospital after the long journey the vet team assessed Kham Mees wounds and put her on a course of antibiotics and administered Boon with more medications both anti-viral and antihistamine. Within a few hour they had both calmed and Boon’s tongue swelling decreased greatly, it was such a relief to see him eating and growing stronger again. We stayed one night at the hospital with the owner and then left him and our mahout – Elephant carer Angae at the hospital. Angae stayed by their side the whole time they were at the hospital, helping with treatments, keeping their treatment area clean and updated us morning and night. Boon was kept under observation and treated for both EEHV and severe allergic reaction and within a few days he was back to his normal self and his Mother Kham Mee was being very difficult and was not tolerating her treatments very well. What a relief, this strong beautiful boy is healthy again!
It was decided it would better to return Kham Mee and Boon to continue out the remainder of the Rest and Care program at BEES and that their carer Angae (employed by BEES and a big part of our Team) would be able to treat her better in a more comfortable environment where she would be calmer and in a place that she was used too. Since they returned Boon has been very strong, he is growing into a handsome young Bull elephant.
As previously explained, Kham Mee and Boon are privately owned and we always knew their stay at BEES was Temporary, even though we wish they could stay with us, the owner would like to move them back home. After new discussions with the owner he plans on moving them back to his home town in about 3.5 months. We love Kham Mee and Boon very much and we will always do everything we can to help them. We will never stop the fight to bring an end to the cruelty and trade and we hope that in the future when BEES is bigger and has a good, strong funding we will be able to do a lot more for these elephants. When the day comes that we have to let them go it will hurt our hearts, because we have really grown to them and understand their behaviors, but what we know and I will tell you this, it will not be goodbye and we will follow up with the owner often.
We will always hold every elephant we meet close to our hearts and will strive to create a postive future for all the elephants. Although, the elephant situation here in Thailand is very complex and the traditions are challenging, the tides are changing for elephant welfare. Our work here will never be finished, not until the last captive elephant is free of abuse and provided with the ability to roam freely and feel grass between their toes, socialize with their own kind and has a life as natural as possible receiving love, respect, and protection.
Education is the key!
Please continue to spread the word about the plight of Asian Elephants, tell people to be in the know before they go to Asian countries.
Together we CAN and WILL make a difference!
With big Trumpets and rumbles of gratitude,
Emily and All The BEES Team xx