The Elephant Livelihood Initiative is a charity that works to conserve the integrity and the habitat of elephants in Cambodia and based in the Eastern province of Mondulkiri.
The Elephant Valley Project
E.L.I.E works under the main NGO called The Elephant Valley Project(EVP). The main aim of the E.L.I.E project is to look after the elephants in Cambodia that are held in captivity, the ones that are free in the wild, and to educate the locals who work with these animals on a daily basis for routine transport.
In a country like Cambodia, especially for the region of Mondulkiri province, elephants are of great use to the local population.
These amazingly powerful creatures are used as modes of transport for people and goods. The locals also use elephants for their farming needs, and to transport tourists and foreigners to places in the traditional way.
Founded in 2006, the E.L.I.E project wants to provide a sustainable life cycle for all elephants in this region. The NGO has been helping in saving captive elephants in the Mondulkiri region in Cambodia, by introducing proper educational and training programs for locals who own them.
The project also looks after wild elephants and provides for veterinarian services for these magnificent beings, that can be supplied anywhere where the animal needs them. They eventually want to set up a sanctuary where they can retire elephants, who work all their lives, as their final homes and resting places with proper care and medication provided.
At the current time, the small sanctuary that has been set up has helped save and secure as many as 10 elephants that are currently healthy and residents at this resting place. Through the Elephant Valley Project, the initiative in Mondulkiri, E.L.I.E has helped save over 300,000 hectares of forest land that is under supervision and security from the NGO.
The educational programs set up to help locals and make them aware of the basic needs and requirements to keep elephants healthy has touched over 2000 local people and educated them about these animals.
From the vast amounts of forest that have been protected, the NGO has set up about 1500+ hectares for the 10 elephants in its sanctuary, where these creatures can roam in the wild as free animals, but also stay under watchful eye and protection.
So far, the NGO has been successful in pushing away elephant poachers looking to kill these animals for ivory and skin. Retired and old animals who are of no longer use to their owners are also looked after by the Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment program.
Responsible Elephant Tourism
In the past 20 years, it was found that about half of Cambodia’s elephant usage was in the tourism sector. Thankfully, this figure is now much-reduced thanks to the hard work of groups and charities such as E.L.I and WWF Cambodia.
The workforce behind the Elephant Valley Project aims to increase the numbers of these elephants all over the country to an amount where they don’t fear a risk of extinction. With elephant poaching being another problem, the average elephant in Cambodia would not get to live old enough to reach reproduction age.
Projects like the E.L.I.E that involve first-hand training and mentoring sessions and educational invitations to the locals contribute to increasing awareness about the elephants.
The great work carried out by these initiatives is helped by the fact that the animals are a source of pride in the region and hold high religious honour among the people.
Their preservation used to be a bigger problem before the government banned elephant captivity in the 1990s. Today, most of the local population only keep the elephants they used to have before the ban was set.
It is hoped that through these initiatives and more funding being created through responsible ecotourism, that wild elephants in Cambodia will flourish once again.