“Eyes of Thailand” Raises Awareness of Elephant Endangerment

Nearly one month after the first World Elephant Day (Aug. 12, 2012), award-winning documentary film “The Eyes of Thailand” continues its official screening tour, creating awareness of the challenges faced by already endangered Asian elephants.

DVA Productions and Indiewood Pictures present a Windy Borman film that documents the story of Soriada Salwala, a woman who spent a decade helping two elephant land mine survivors walk again.

Narrated by Ashley Judd, “The Eyes of Thailand” is a true and inspirational story of sacrifice and perseverance of one woman’s efforts to save an endangered species from threats above and below Earth’s surface.

The film’s elephants Motala and Baby Mosha reside at FAE’s Elephant Hospital, the world’s first elephant hospital, founded by the documentary film’s subject Soriada Salwada. Other landmine survivors have joined Motala and Baby Mosha, including Boonmee, an Asian elephant injured in 2010. Salwada regularly updates followers and supporters about the pachyderm patients’ care and progress on FAE Hospital Facebook Page.

“Over the years, Boonmee’s injuries slowly healed although the front right leg is still swollen. I planned to move her down to the infirmary next to Motala and all necessary preparation was made. However, when I returned to FAE (after 6 weeks away), Boonmee was in a poor state. Her right hind foot couldn’t carry her weight because the footpad was peeling off. She could barely move her body.”

Today, there are less than 43,000 Asian elephants worldwide, and fewer than 400,000 African elephants. The two species, African and Asian, are similar in physiology but too biologically different to interbreed.

Landmines and deforestation are just a few of the challenges to elephant survival. Despite the 1989 international ban on the ivory trade, 2011 saw the highest number of illegal ivory seizures recorded in the last 23 years.

Of the world’s remaining population, one in three Asian elephants is a captive animal. In the past 50 years, the Asian elephant range diminished by over 70%: Asian elephants range in 14 countries. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 100,000 Asian elephants in Thailand. There are less than 4,000 in Thailand today.

In conjunction with World Elephant Day on August 12, 2012, CanazWest Pictures released “Return to the Forest,” a documentary film narrated by William Shatner that chronicles the successful reintroduction of over 90 elephants in Thailand.

“Elephants are among the most fascinating creatures. What limits there are to their intelligence, we don’t know. What we do know is that they can communicate between each other thousands of miles, which would then also mean that every elephant is linked to every other elephant in the world. Why the complexity, unless there was a reason, and that reason has to be intelligence. What a wonderful creature they must be.” – William Shatner

Elephant Reintroduction Foundation sponsored the film and World Elephant Day. The foundation offers individuals a pledge to support a world that protects elephants, wildlife, and their habitat on their website.

Connect with @SoraidaSalwala @WindyBorman @EyesOfThailand to follow updates on the film and friends at FAE Hospital.

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