A KIND-HEARTED Peopleton family have returned from Thailand after spending the summer helping elephants return to their natural habitat.
Sarah Blaine started the charity, Mahouts, with her family, husband Felix, 14-year-old son Joe and 11-year-old daughter Natasha, in 2012 following a trip to the Asian country where they observed the appalling conditions of elephants.
The family recently completed the project, Walking Elephants Home, where a dedicated group of elephant lovers trekked 100 miles across the Thai jungle to walk the mammals – which are used in tourism activities – back home to their villages.
The Blaine’s decided they wanted to help the endangered species when they witnessed 70-year-old elephant Somsri die, shortly after being rescued due to the intense cruelty she had experienced as a tourist attraction.
The charity aims to promote responsible and low impact tourism and encourage tourists to only visit sanctuaries and projects with elephant welfare at their heart.
“I’ve had a passion for elephants all my life and decided to go on a volunteering project in northern Thailand seven years ago.
“Since then we’ve set up the charity and have just come back from a sanctuary in Thailand where we spent seven weeks.
“We’ve had 15 volunteers including two Americans who’ve raised sponsorships to help the elephants back into the forest this summer.
“I’m now getting ready to talk to tour companies on the harm riding elephants can do to the animals and how we can still enjoy them just as much by watching them in their natural environment.
“I’m heading out to Nepal in December to meet a woman who’s running a similar project, to learn how we can continue to protect and save elephants.”
Visit www.mahouts.org for more information on the Mahouts Foundation project.