It Takes a Village

EAI wants to assist families that care for elephants. Why?

When it comes to elephant care in a captive environment, EAI believes it takes a group effort. The term “it takes a village” may be a cliché, but it’s true. In the case of improved elephant welfare, only a village will do.

Villages specialize

The ancient village concept has long been recognized as key to the wellbeing and even the survival of a community. In Asia, diversity is the key. Each village excels in a specialized skill such as fishing, hunting, basket weaving, cloth making, cultivation or even elephant keeping. 

Generation to generation

A village of elephant keepers passes down knowledge and skills from generation to generation. For decades, wild elephants were captured, trained, worked, housed and cared for by the village. Elders blessed the capture and training of elephants, the village youth learned by example. Traditionally, elephants were treated like family members.

Dramatic changes

Things have changed dramatically over the past thirty years. With the banning of logging in most Asian countries, elephants have become a burden, reduced to street begging, performing for tourists and sought after by criminals engaged in unlawful logging activities.

Humans control elephants

Elephants being held in captivity and deprived of a natural life is a worldwide problem, but nowhere is it as pervasive as in Asia. With their natural habitat and wild cousins in such proximity, elephants held in captivity in Asia suffer immensely from their circumstances. Until alternatives prevail, elephants will remain under human control. 

The goal

EAI’s goal is to provide education that will enable owners and mahouts to replace abusive management practices with humane methods and to give villagers the tools and opportunities to improve their standard of living.

The village is key

The village concept is key to attaining the goal of improved human and elephant welfare. By relying on the positive aspects of village culture and traditions, EAI will help restore mahouts’ respected status, benefiting the entire village and the elephants in their care.