Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok Post’

Soraida and Elephant Hospital survive Thai conflict

Monday, June 7th, 2010

June 7, 2010–It is with a great sigh of relief that I write to share Soraida Salwala, the founder of The Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Elephant Hospital featured in the documentary The Eyes of Thailand, and the elephants and staff at FAE are safe after the conflict that started in Bangkok, but spread to the Northern and Eastern provinces, finally ended. The current statistics count 89 dead and 1,884 injured.

I asked Soraida to write when she was safe and explain what she saw. On May 25, 2010, she wrote the following:

Dear Windy:

Here it is what I could think of now.

I went to Bangkok on the 12th May to attend two meetings, bank documents for the Board to sign, so I could go to the banks. However those tasks were not done at all except the documents signed. Only 20 minutes before the problems arose on the night of  13th, I called FAE staff and talked to them on the speaker to quickly call their friends or relatives in those areas to evacuate that minute. It was a tragic and horrifying for all of us. I could see smoke  and they were in air you breathed.

I was stuck in Bangkok for one whole week and in the morning of the 19th May, the military were taking over the dangerous zones, I went to the hospital to see my cardiologist and others, thinking the worse was I would be stuck at the hospital and it would better than to be on the roads. Anyway, I followed the news closely on twitter and so I decided I should leave Bangkok. I managed to get a flight out of Bangkok Airport to Chiangmai.

Those seven days were nightmares, not only to me but all residents in Bangkok and most of us Thais. I talked to the staff and greeted the elephants via phone, worked via emails, reassuring them that I was safe.But shortly after my arrival in Chiangmai, some riots there too, burning the tyres, burning the Governor’s house and etc. Smoke was in the air, curfew was announced and so I was stuck there again.

The problems are still there but the protesters were out of Bangkok, some leaders have been arrested. Some are charged with terrorism. I could not describe my feelings seeing burning buldings, almost 40 places burnt. Snipers shooting pedestrians, hand grenades were thrown, gunfires, explosions heard.

We are still under curfew, Bangkok ,Chiangmai, Lampang and other 20 or so provinces.

They will not stop until they get what they want but why destroy the buildings, kill the soldiers, kill their own people, looting shops. I am still numbed and devastated.

The elephants are fine and I am worried about what might come next. I do not wish to travel for fear that if anything happened I could not return to the north.

How sad!


The Bangkok Post is calling for reconciliation between the Red shirts and Yellow shirts in order to preserve democracy in Thailand. Yesterday, Op-Ed writer Voranai Vanijaka wrote, “It’s either evolution from above, or revolution from below _ and we all should pray for the former, because the latter means bloodshed and anarchy _ as we have already witnessed.”

Please join me in sending your thoughts for safety and reconciliation.  I will post more as I receive news.


Windy Borman

Director/Producer, “The Eyes of Thailand”

Elephant Nursing Home

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Where do elephants go to retire?  No, that is not the start of a bad joke, it’s a legitimate question for an endangered species who was captured from the wild, domesticated (usually through brutal methods) and spent its life begging on the street, logging, performing at tourist camps or carrying back-fulls of tourists at trekking camps.

Starting on 21 November 2009, Thailand will send its “retired” elephants to The Pang-La Nursery Home for Aged Elephant, according to the Bangkok Post article published 10 Oct 2009.

I asked Soraida Salwala, founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) and the World’s First Elephant Hospital, about her thoughts about a government-run Nursing Home for aging and “retired” elephants.  She wrote:

The Last Home Project (for the unwanted elephants) has been the project of Friends of the Asian Elephant since our inception in 1993. It has also been known widely among the authorities and officials of the Ministry, especially of the FIO, since their staff used to work closely with FAE in the first few years.

FAE could not carry out many projects as we have planned due to lack of funds and obstacles that never cease. However, our Last Home Project has been taken and the name (in Thai: BAAN LUNG SOUD TAIE) is used by the government sector, which I find it quite strange. Even though it is our initiative we are also happy that our many projects are being done by many government and private groups (in and outside Thailand). At the very least, the elephants will have a place to stay, being fed properly and with veterinary care. The only thing that troubles me is “will they be really taken care of properly?” and not being put for show and for other purposes.

How I wish that there are no more elephant politics in Thailand so the elephants management will be for the good of the elephants and those who truly care for them.

For the elephants,

Soraida Salwala

When asked if an Elephant Nursing Home is a good or a bad thing, Soraida wrote:

It is a good thing, it is from FAE’s projects, so how could it not be good! But I am concerned as to the hidden agendas. Government sectors are not supposed to receive donation money for their own gain, but they (FIO) do even though they receive over 100 million Baht Budget a year.

To read more about Thailand’s plan for an Elephant Nursing Home, please visit The Bangkok Post.

To learn more about The Eyes of Thailand documentary, which features Soraida Salwala and FAE, please visit the film’s webpage.

-Windy Borman

Producer, Writer and Director, The Eyes of Thailand