Monsoon Season is Over – September E-Newsletter

There are more than one hundred elephants awaiting pedicures in India and Nepal. Wow — I can hardly catch my breath at the thought of it!

This is my passion these days — foot trimming. The joy of being at the ground level, literally, of elephant welfare, is thrilling. I know we cannot fix all the problems facing captive elephants in Asia, but foot care is a very immediate and concrete way to improve their lives.

India: Care center plans

I will be in India through October, visiting with colleagues about prospective care center projects (and, of course, trimming elephant feet!). The care center project in Bannerghatta stalled due to property ownership issues and lack of government clearance. Disappointing as it is, we have decided to cancel the Bannerghatta care center project and concentrate on other more promising locations.

This will be my third visit to Guwahati, in India’s north. It is stunningly beautiful elephant country. Unlike my last visit, which was a six-hour whirlwind blur, I will spend several days studying the area proposed for a new care center. I also plan to meet with the chief warden of Assam about a proposed care center in his state.

This will be my second meeting with the warden. My colleague from the Assam Elephant Foundation and I are encouraged by the interest he has shown in this project. In fact, it was the warden’s idea and it is only with his endorsement that the project can move forward.

The last time we met, the warden committed an area of land to the proposed center and agreed to permit the residents of our center to have access to the surrounding forest. This is an exciting start. I will keep you posted as we proceed.

I will make a repeat visit to Wildlife SOS-India, outside New Delhi. This time I will have the opportunity to provide pedicures for all the elephants before heading off to see their new project, a four hundred-acre elephant rescue center under construction in Mathura. I have heard so much about this project—I can’t wait to see it.

Nepal: Pedicures, chain-free yards, waste disposal and retirement center

When I arrive in Nepal in November, I will have my work cut out for me: pedicures for more than one hundred elephants; we hope the construction of several more chain-free yards; development of environmentally sound elephant waste disposal practices; and brainstorming on plans for an elephant retirement center in Sauraha. What a productive time this will be!

Our first candidates for a chain-free yard are Man Kali and her two-month-old baby Hem Gaj. Currently, Man Kali is chained but little Hem Gaj is chain-free, kept with his mom in a wooden corral built by the mahouts.

But the wooden corral won’t hold him in for long!

After watching how Sweetie Kali blossomed in her chain-free yard, the mahouts want the same for her baby brother. They are determined that Hem Gaj will not be put on chains and have asked us to build a yard for him and his mother.

Help us build a yard for Man Kali and Hem Gaj!

Enclosing one acre of land with the power fence required to keep captive elephants in and wild elephants out, costs close to $4,000US. Adding water storage tanks, plumbing and a drinking trough, adds another $2,000US.

Help us remove the heavy chains from Man Kali’s legs and ensure that baby Hem Gaj will never feel the pain of cold steel around his ankles.

Just say yes! I want to contribute $10 / $25 / $50 / $75 / $100 / or other $_____ to build a one-acre, chain-free yard for Man Kali and her two-month old baby, Hem Gaj.

If you prefer to donate by check, please make your check payable to Elephant Aid International and send it to:

Elephant Aid International

P.O. Box 106

Hohenwald, TN 38462


As you might expect, we won’t stop there. As the funds are raised, we will build more yards for more elephants.

We are making great progress in Nepal. The mahouts welcome my return and are engaged in the changes we are making. They have embraced the chain-free yard concept, are excelling at pedicures and want to learn more humane ways of working with their elephants. The future of elephant welfare in Nepal is in their hands.

You make it possible

We have made it this far because we believe in the power of one. Each one of you makes it possible to help one elephant, then another and another.

As I head off to the Far East once again, I am eternally grateful for your continuing support and encouragement. Knowing that you are behind me one hundred percent gives me the determination to forge ahead, helping one elephant at a time, then another and another. It’s working and it’s all thanks to you!

Please follow the progress of our work on my blog and thank you, as always, for your support.



another possible care center in India

For the past two months I have been in communications with a well-established foundation interested in collaborating with Elephant Aid International on a care center in Northeast India.

Early next week I will walk the land proposed for the care center. It took a bit of flight rescheduling to accomplish this layover, but passing up the opportunity to consider an additional site for a care center was simply not an option.

I have a short twelve hours to travel from the airport to the proposed site, walk the land, assess its suitability for a care center and meet with the foundation and forest department representatives to discuss my findings.

Am I excited? Absolutely!

I realize I posted a bevy of ChipIns this past week. All our projects came to fruition in rapid succession and I am eternally grateful to everyone who rallied to make the fundraising efforts a huge success.

This time I need to raise $421 for airfare to visit this proposed care center site in India.

If you already gave to Sweetie Kali’s yard or water trough or the pool for the babies at the government breeding center, don’t burden yourself thinking you need to give again. Others will contribute and feel the joy of giving to a good cause. I have complete confidence that the funds will be raised.

As always, my sincerest thank you for your compassion and concern for elephants.

UPDATE: Elephant Care Center

In 2009, India’s Central Zoo Authority mandated that all elephants living in zoos had to be moved to national parks and sanctuaries. Unfortunately, facilities to accommodate the displaced elephants do not yet exist.

My goal is to create an elephant care center prototype in India that can be easily replicated countrywide, ensuring that all zoo elephants can be relocated to more suitable environments.

Serious discussion for the development of Elephant Aid International’s first elephant care center (sanctuary) in India, which has been underway for many months, is in the final stages. A fabulous piece of land bordering a National Forest has been selected, complete with forests, pastures and ponds. It is a wonderful location for rescued elephants.

Last week, at our request, government officials toured the property. They asked questions about management and funding, voiced concerns about co-mingling of wild and captive elephants and requested follow-up information regarding our plans. All concerns were minor and easily addressed.

Although government endorsement is not a requirement for the creation of the elephant rescue center, enlisting government input will serve to strengthen relationships essential for a successful project. We are confident of an emerging rescue center reality! Stay tuned for future updates. We hope to confirm government endorsement within a few weeks.