After a four-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, H-ELP’s trainers embarked on a much-anticipated training trip to the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort in November 2023. This marked their fifth visit to the northernmost region of Thailand, an area that shares borders with Myanmar and Laos.

Innovative Training Techniques and Local Insights
The team, led by Dr. Portland Jones and Nicki Stuart, utilised this opportunity to introduce the H-ELP Training App, a modern tool designed to enhance elephant training methods. With the absence of Senior Trainer Dr. Andrew McLean, the duo was joined by Vijo Virghase, founder of OurLand, whose expertise in Thai language and culture proved invaluable.

Observations and Progress in the Field
During their visit, the trainers observed the interactions between mahouts and elephants, focusing on the clarity of commands and the importance of reinforcement. They worked with three elephants, Beau, Yoktah, and Chopatch, emphasising the need for clear training and immediate positive reinforcement.

Engaging Educational Sessions and App Feedback
Classroom sessions covered topics such as animal learning and classical conditioning, sparking valuable discussions among participants. The trainers also sought feedback on the H-ELP Training App from mahouts, who found it promising for training newcomers.

Looking Ahead
The trip concluded with attendance at the 19th Annual Elephant Conservation and Research Symposium, where the team networked and discussed future collaborations. The experience underscored the need for continued efforts in communicating the H-ELP philosophy and advocating for the welfare of captive elephants.

The H-ELP Foundation’s trip to Thailand was a testament to their dedication to elephant welfare. The insights gained and the progress made highlight the importance of such training programs in enhancing the lives of both elephants and their caretakers.