Our global network of experts will link with highly experienced field workers to provide continual funding and expertise across Asia. As a small foundation, our goal is to provide help that maximizes the efficiency of the money spent.
NAKA Elephant Foundation is a Thailand-based foundation that has evolved from the earlier efforts of The Asian Elephant Foundation (TAEF), a recently closed foundation established by the world famous Elephant Parade. NAKA continues TAEF’s legacy as a new and independent foundation under the leadership of Carmen Rademaker, former Director of TAEF.
Naka was a joyful and rambunctious calf who gladdened the hearts of all around him. Sadly, he died very quickly after contracting Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), an epidemic disease that attacks mainly young elephants worldwide. (Finding strategic responses to EEHV effective in Asian field conditions is one of our goals.) This much loved calf is a fitting namesake for our foundation because Naka is a constant reminder that helping elephants requires not just loving hearts but also thinking brains, in careful balance.
NAKA has three primary goals. First, we will raise public awareness about the threats facing Asian elephants, but especially captive Asian elephants. (Our emphasis on captives is because wild elephants already get much attention from governments and large non-government organizations (NGOs), but captive elephants get only piecemeal help from small, under-funded organizations.) Second, we will support carefully selected projects and organizations with both funding and technical help. Third, we will develop much needed tools and policies that apply not just to individual sites but to Asian elephants everywhere.
Our emphasis will be on Thailand and Myanmar because Thailand is the vanguard in confronting new problems brought by the 21st Century. Thailand has over the last thirty years or so undergone a dramatic transition, losing nearly of its traditional jobs for elephants, logging and transportation. Other countries in the region are beginning to confront the same catastrophic loss. Tourism — which brings unique problems — is now virtually the only legal work in Thailand, so solving tourism-related projects there will help other Asian countries prepare for the future.
Myanmar and Thailand share not just a common border but also many common traditions, and Myanmar is rapidly progressing towards an open economy with steadily climbing tourists numbers. As logging is phased out, Myanmar will share many of the problems facing Thailand’s elephants, owners and keepers.
NAKA will work to:
Carmen Rademaker gained a very well respected reputation as director of The Asian Elephant Foundation (TAEF), a creation of Elephant Parade. Working with TAEF has provided her a strong sense of realism about elephant projects in Asia. Carmen has been living in Asia for more than 16 years, knows that elephant related matters can be sensitive and understands that network, relationships, trust and expertise are crucial elements in approaching the current elephant situation.
She is the secretary and founding member of the ASEAN Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG) and she maintains close ties with Elephant Parade and Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) in Lampang, Thailand.
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