A caravan of five elephants has began a 250-km trek in a public-awareness campaign over global warming, which is expected to be discussed at a world summit in Copenhagen in December.
Executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia Von Hernandez said the Chang(e) Caravan has been organised especially to arouse US President Barack Obama to take concrete action to tackle global warming. He was speaking yesterday at the opening ceremony of an elephant-nursing centre in Nakhon Ratchasima to flag off the caravan.
Forests, animals in danger
The rain forests in Southeast Asia and its inhabitants the wild elephants are one of the areas and animals most at risk of global warming. They and around 20 per cent of other animals are endangered because of the phenomenon and man-made problems, he said.
The Chang(e) Caravan project is aimed particularly at urging Obama to bring up the issue of a worsening global-warming at the Copenhagen summit. "He is expected to take a leadership role over the issue and act on it seriously," Hernandez added.
Alongkot Chukaew, the manager of the caravan, said all five domesticated elephants were well trained - they can associate closely with humans and crowds.
The 250-km route, which will be covered in 14 days, will snake past Khao Yai National Park and along the Bang Pakong River basin through Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri and Chachoeng-sao. The finish line is in Samut Prakan province.
There are 15 rest points along the route. All elephants will walk no more than 10 km each day, and will be transported in specially designed trucks in crowded areas or communities, he said.
Water, food and medical care will be sufficiently provided at each rest point.
The elephants will participate in various "non-abusive" activites in selected communities along the route to raise awareness among local residents on global warming, he added.
Elephants are a crucial indicitor signifying the health - and wealth - of our ecological system. "Successful prevention to protect wild elephants means successfull prevenion of the entire ecological system, which humans are a part of," Alongkot pointed out.
There are now 2,000 wild and 3,000 domesticated elephants in Thailand.