Giving Back: Wildlife Conservation

The Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri

The Elephant Valley Project is a superb organization providing support for Bunong villagers while rescuing domestic elephants who have suffered injury and abuse. They also assist local villagers in looking after their elephants, sometimes buying the elephant or ‘renting’ them from the owners, thus enabling them to earn an income without having to use them for logging. The project is a key part of a vast wildlife corridor covering a significant part of Mondulkiri province that crosses into neighboring Vietnam, forming part of six protected reserves and national parks. It covers 1,500 hectares, all owned by the Bunong community.

The concept focuses on walking with the elephants and learning about the project, studying elephant behavior and elephant emotions with expert guides and mahouts. No riding is permitted. Earnings from visitors create revenue for the project to lease the land and further support the community with transportation and medical cover, providing a basic support network for the Bunong people as well as ensuring the resident elephants are very well taken care of.

Guests can enjoy a unique ‘Walking with the Herd for a day’ experience. They will be introduced to the herd of elephants, getting to know more about their history, character, behavior and body language while walking alongside them in their natural environment. There is also an opportunity to feed them and then bathe them before watching them cover themselves in mud again. After lunch we embark on a trek with the elephants through the stunning Mondulkiri countryside.

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Panda Volunteer in China

Get up close and learn more about China’s most revered and endangered species: the Giant Panda. Guests have the opportunity to interact with these amazing animals through feeding them, preparing food and cleaning their cages. Volunteering will take place at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, Dujiangyan Base. The center is located about two km from Qingcheng Mountain, roughly 1 hour 20 minutes’ drive from Chengdu. The research center is home to between 20 and 40 giant pandas as well as several red pandas, with vital work taking place to ensure their future is secure in the world we share. A detailed description of the panda volunteering itinerary will be provided upon guests’ booking of the itinerary.

e: [email protected]

Borneo Sun Bears Conservation Centre

Destination Asia Malaysia is working closely with the Borneo Sun Bears Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sandakan, assisting them in their protection work and awareness campaigns. Opened in January 2014, the center was identified by Destination Asia as an exceptional case that would greatly benefit from our support, and the time of volunteers.

The sun bear is found in tropical forests habitats around southeast Asia and is classified as vulnerable by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) due to the large scale deforestation that has occurred throughout the region over the past three decades. Their natural habitat has been vastly reduced through deforestation and sun bears are often killed for commercial exploitation, resulting in a decline of more than 30% over the past three bear generations. Malaysia has pledged to cover the cost of adopting one sun bear per year, ensuring the animal has enough food, shelter and the necessary veterinary supplies to stay healthy. Donations and sponsors received by BSBCC go directly towards; food and enrichment for the bears; staffing; veterinary costs and occasional marketing activities to raise awareness. By volunteering guests can work with expert biologists and researchers to help rehabilitate these vulnerable sun bears. It is an excellent opportunity to make a real difference while traveling– and an experience forever fondly remembered.

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Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

On 1 January 2002, a 130 hectare site at Sungei Buloh was of officially cordoned as a nature reserve and renamed Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, with the sole intention of conserving a rich and exotic wildlife. Its roots date back to 1986 when a group of avid birdwatchers stumbled across the site and worked towards its designation as a nature park in 1989. By 1994 it had already welcomed its 100,000th visitor, showing the interest it drew from a wide variety of migratory and native animals found there.

Destination Asia Singapore operates programs visiting the reserve with maximum group sizes of 15. Each tour has a personal guide and lasts roughly one hour. 15% of tour sales will go directly to a local charitable cause in Singapore called Willing Hearts. Willing Hearts is a 100% volunteer-run, non-profit organization set up to help provide for the needy in Singapore. In 2003 the reserve was recognized and accepted as a member of the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership due to its importance as a stopover point for migratory shorebirds. This led to it becoming Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park the same year.

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Elephant Day Care in Thailand

The relationship between elephants in Asia and tourism can be divided into two clear categories. The first is viewing wild elephants in their natural habitat (National Parks or remote rural regions), while the second is viewing and/or interacting with captive elephants in sanctuaries and elephant camps. Here at Destination Asia we promote viewing wild elephants following clear guidelines so not to disrupt their natural environment; and we are working with Travelife to define a widely accepted set of criteria and evaluation system for elephant camps in Asia.

Destination Asia Thailand fully support the work carried out at Patara Elephant Farm, especially the ‘Elephant Day Care’ program, a unique experience introducing techniques used to care for elephants. The emphasis is on care and wellbeing of the elephants, providing guests with the chance to learn about the center’s conservation philosophy.

Activities on offer here include taking part in the daily healthcare routine which includes health inspection, feeding, walking with the elephants and washing. It is then possible to observe them interacting among their families in a natural environment. This unique experience does not include riding any elephants. It is suitable for all, especially friends and families with children.

e: [email protected]

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