The Asian Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG) is a recently formed conservation and welfare body comprising over forty experts from scientific and practical disciplines. (It started as the ASEAN Captive Elephant Working Group but opted for a name change at its third meeting in 2016.) ACEWG’s goal is to use the members’ extensive knowledge and connections to bring “on the ground” programs that improve the quality of life of captive elephants in all range states. Law, education, veterinary care, science, sociology, and animal husbandry are the among the main fields where ACEWG will work.
ACEWG’s key guiding principle is simply to be realistic and to promote projects based on facts and science, projects that are workable on the ground, not the theory and unfounded assumptions of so many foundations dependent on public donations. NAKA firmly shares this principle, and many of NAKA’s advisors and associates have been active contributors to ACEWG since its beginning.
Both ACEWG and NAKA believe in the need to foster healthy and sustainable national captive populations where the well-being of the animals is integral to the success of the owners, whether government or private individuals.
Some of ACEWG’s goals are to:
- Ensure sustainable populations from only elephant already in captivity
- Eliminate the capture of wild elephants in range countries for any commercial purposes
- Provide proper welfare for captive elephants, both physical and mental
- Expand and enhance cooperation among experts within the range states
- Improve elephant welfare by improving the quality mahouts and the ethics of owners
- Encourage business practices and models that align with elephant welfare
- Respect the traditional culture of elephant use but infuse it with modern values
- Enhance education and awareness
- Explore the research opportunities that captive elephants bring to wild elephant conservation
- Encourage and help tourism facilities to promote science and wild elephant conservation