A new ecotourism event, Elephant Travel Mart 2018, jointly hosted by ‘Save Elephant Foundation’ and ‘Asian Elephant Projects’, aims to bring together ethical elephant tour operators and tour agencies in Chiang Mai on December 14.
The event, taking place at Khum Kan Toke, Chiang Mai, is conceived by the founder of ‘Save Elephant Foundation’, Sangduen Chailert (Lek), who works tirelessly for the wellbeing of Thailand’s elephants.
Elephant tourism has long been associated with Thailand by travelers from around the globe and helps to attract millions of visitors to the country each year. However, there has been a growing trend away from traditional forms of elephant tourism (such as elephant riding and circus shows) towards ethical elephant tours offering programs that are sustainable and make the well-being of elephants a priority.
Ecotourism values promoting modes of travel with minimal impact on the environment are becoming more widespread, particularly among young people. A growing concern for the environment and for the welfare of animals is changing the landscape of tourism across many tourist destinations throughout the world – a positive change that presents significant opportunities.
A key goal of Elephant Travel Mart 2018 is to provide a venue to bring people together to discuss how the travel industry can continue to adapt to respond to this trend and better meet the shifting demands of travelers.
Lek Chailert suggests that, “If ethical tour operators using environmentally sound practices and tour agencies work together in response to the demand for sustainable ecotourism in Thailand, a mutually beneficial relationship can be achieved that will create widespread benefits for the elephants, the environment, small communities, and the Thai economy.”
The event will begin with a thank you address to the audience by Lek, followed by an opening ceremony, including a performance by the Chiang Mai College of Dramatic Arts. Elephant tour operators and travel agencies will then meet to discuss potential opportunities for working together.
At the event, there will be 30 booths representing the ‘Saddle Off’ projects promoted by Asian Elephant Projects. Each booth will provide details about their project and hand out brochures and souvenirs to visitors. There will also be lucky draw prizes offering free gift vouchers to visit the various ‘Saddle Off’ projects throughout Chiang Mai province.
In the evening, dinner will be served and entertainment provided by various Thai stars including Rose Sirinthip, Baitoey R-SIAM, King The Star, and Bow Benjasiri. The winners of the lucky prize draw will then be announced. The event will end with a closing address by Prof. Prayat Vorapreecha, Honorary Counselor of Save Elephant Foundation.
It is hoped that this event will provide an important opportunity to exchange and develop ideas as well as build relationships between members of the travel industry in order to take full advantage of the growing popularity of ecotourism.
“The success of this event holds the potential to positively impact the welfare of elephants in Thailand, protect and improve the environment, and provide support to local communities,” concludes Ms. Chailert.
Noodle sellers dodging police bullets in Chiang Mai
PHOTOS: Manager Online
When people fire guns, the bullets that miss still end up somewhere. Like into the cooking pot of a surprised noodle seller in Chiang Mai!
The man selling noodles was working the late night shift on a road leading to Mae Rim, according to Manager Online. He had a very lucky escape after a bullet shell-casing hit a pot lid that he was holding at the time.
Police from the Chang Pheuak station had opened fire on a motorist who failed to stop at an alcohol checkpoint at 2 am on Tuesday. Natthawut, the younger brother of the noodle seller, jumped onto his Facebook page to take aim at the local police and their stray bullets.
Police contacted the pair later and claim that ‘all was settled amicably’.
“The police were just doing their job”, said Natthawut, according to the Manager Online article.
They agreed that the path of the bullet was not directed towards their noodle stand.
In other news, make sure you stop at police checkpoints!
SOURCE: Manager Online
Toxic free school lunches
“Meat balls and sausages used in student lunches were also found to be contaminated with borax and formalin.”
A major study has been released researching contaminants in vegetables used in the state-sponsored school lunch program. You’d hope that the lunches were fresh and nutritious, right?
Instead, they were dangerous.
Vegetables and fruits found in lunches for students under the government’s free lunch program are almost 100 percent contaminated with pesticides and 99 percent of the urine samples from students and teachers in four provinces were tested with organophosphate, a deadly toxic pesticide that can attack the nervous system.
The alarming findings were the result of a research jointly conducted by Thai Education Foundation, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Field Alliance of Chiangmai University and Greenpeace Thailand between July 2017-October 2018 on student lunches in 55 schools in Chiang Mai, Pathum Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phang-nga provinces.
Vegetables, widely used in student lunches which were tested, include carrot, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kale, long bean and tomato. However, only two types of chemicals were tested – organophosphate and pyrethrum because organophosphate are widely used in insecticides for fruits and vegetables.
Thai PBS reports the the Thai Education Foundation secretary-general Marut Jatikate said that the most alarming findings appear to be the organophosphate residue found in 99 percent of the 436 urine samples from students and teachers in the four provinces.
Organophosphate poisoning symptoms include increased saliva and tear production, diarrhea, vomiting, small pupils, sweating, muscle tremors and confusion.
He said that the tests this time focused on two chemicals – organophosphate and pyrethrum – but they should have covered more toxic chemicals.
Nevertheless, he said findings from this research would be sent to the schools and parents of students in order that they would change the menu of student lunches but switching from mass-produced vegetables and fruits to organic vegetables and fruits which should be safer.
Besides the unsafe fruits and vegetables, Mr Marut said meat, meat balls and sausages used in student lunches were also found to be contaminated with borax and formalin.
ORIGINAL STORY: Thai PBS
Teaching children to avoid sexual predators
Members of the police-led Thailand Internet Crime against Children (TICAC), Zoe International and the Hug Project are educating students on how perpetrators lure victims and use their sexual information and images to further extort sexual favours.
“Their plans are very complex,” said Wirawan ‘Boom’ Mosby, founder and director of the Hug Project, which co-launched the program with Zoe International and TICAC yesterday.
Sexual predators have migrated to the Internet over the past few years, thanks mainly to development in technology and strong police suppression in real time, Wirawan said.
She said both boys and girls are being targeted, citing a TICAC case that involved more than a hundred teenage boys.
In a typical scenario, she explained, a paedophile sets up a fake account on social media such as Line, Facebook or Skype, using the image of a beautiful girl as a profile picture to get close to the target. After building affection and trust, the predator might then send a clip of a woman masturbating, and ask for a similar clip in exchange. These clips are then recorded and sold to a secret group.
As the target is often scared about the clip being leaked, the predator is able to extort more videos, Wirawan explained.
As per the Hug Project, two teachers in each school will be trained to help students avoid falling prey to online sexual coercion and extortion. The students will know which teachers they can reach out to, and the teachers in turn can report the case to Hug Project officers or TICAC.
“We will use technology to fight technology,” Wirawan added.
The project will also limit students’ access to adult content. By installing OpenDNS on their Wi-Fi routers, schools will be able to block pornography and websites deemed “unsafe” from being accessed by devices connected to the school’s Wi-Fi.
Wirawan’s company, Movaci Technology, will also offer free technical support.
For now, the programme includes eight state-run schools and three private foundations, along with about 3,000 students, but Wirawan hopes the initiative will be adopted nationwide.
“I hope the Education Ministry adopts and implements this project in all schools,” she said.
TICAC chief Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal said police had investigated 128 cases of child pornography and 39 of child trafficking between 2015 and 2018.
Of the 140 suspects, 45 were foreigners and the remainder Thai. Police rescued 107 children – 33 boys and 74 girls.
Wirawan has been honoured by the US State Department for combating child trafficking in Thailand.
STORY: The Nation
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