With the Thai elephant population in sharp decline due to loss of habitat and forestry bans, our project focuses on promoting the survival of the remaining elephants and comprehensively recording the Mahout (keeper) culture surrounding them. Through the production of a documentary film, a gallery of fine art photography and a book we intend to create long-term funding streams to help the survival of these wonderful creatures.
We are asking your help to create the documentary film, which will be distributed through media channels and at awareness events – film festivals throughout the world, a self-distributed theatrical release and online outlet such as iTunes, Netflix and Amazon. We will also be submitting the project to the PBS, Discovery and other TV channels.
The film will follow three characters: a mahout who bonds with an elephant for life; one of the Elephant Spirit Men (the Khru Ba Yai); and a baby elephant, whose future is uncertain. In this way the film will show the past, present, and future for the elephants and their mahouts.
Another focus of the film is on the Kui people, a minority indigenous to Cambodia and Thailand who are the traditional carers of elephants. In Kui culture, elephants live as part of the family and their training techniques do not include a 'crush', or breaking of the elephant's spirit. By promoting and recording the techniques of these people, we aim to publicize a 'best practice' for the treatment of Thailand's remaining domestic elephants - according them the respect and dignity which is their due.
By working with experienced linguists and anthropologists ,the project also aims to identify similarities between the stories of the Kui people and other traditional elephant caring peoples, such as the M’Nong of Vietnam, the Thai Lue of Laos and the Karen of Burma, as well as the traditional mahouts of India and Sri Lanka.
The story of the Elephant Spirit Men has never been told before. For centuries, they have provided the spiritual elements of the elephant/human bond amongst the Kui people; but with only five elderly Spirit Men remaining, this irreplaceable piece of Thai cultural history will soon be lost forever.
The project is in collaboration with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Thailand (www.helpingelephants.org). GTAEF is a refuge for 30 elephants and their mahouts in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand.
The creative team
Noted conservation filmmaker, Tim Kelly of Fridays Films, will lead the filming, editing and production. Fine art photography will be done by Carol Reavenall, as part of an ongoing five-year commitment to documenting the elephants and Mahouts at GTAEF.
The photography project has increasing awareness worldwide and been featured by companies such as Nikon USA, Lowepro, Equestrio magazine, liveBooks, LightSource SF, Anantara Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels and a number of supporting partners who have all promoted the photographic series and its cause.
The full story of our project is available at www.carolstevenson.wordpress.com
How your donations will be used
The actual creative work is all being provided pro-bono, we just have to be able to get the artists to their subjects! We require funding for travel and accommodation, production assistants, supplies and post-production costs.
Please join us by donating as much as you can - every US$5 will make a difference. We'll send you updates and we will blog along the way together with posting video snippets already taken by a number of our elephant friends.
Links to other elephant information and news:
See Knight&Hammer's jewelryfeaturing the elephant charms at http://www.knightandhammer.com/
Follow our Director of Elephants Blog http://news.helpingelephants.org
Follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/elehelp
Follow Carol's ele photography on facebook Elephant Photographer
Read Nikon's feature of Carol's project at
- (40 days)