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The Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (WARF) became an officially registered charity on 26th August 1992, through the work of its founders, Leonie and Pongsagdi Vejjajiva, who for more than 10 years previously had run their own sanctuary at their home in Bangkok. Thus in 1992, WARF was created, to ensure that what had become their life's work continues into the future. The Sukhumvit sanctuary has spread from their backyard to project sites all over Thailand.
Since its establishment, WARF has expanded its operations and developed closer ties with the Royal Forestry Department and other government and non-governmental agencies. Today it has become one of Thailand's leading advocates for nature conservation. Currently WARF operates four different wildlife sanctuaries that are focused on providing appropriate housing and care for animals placed under their protection. Many of the animals in WARF's care, including gibbons, macaques, bears and tigers are former pets that have been maltreated, or have grown too big and unmanageable for their owners. WARF's goal is to rehabilitate these animals wherever possible and return them to the wild. However many animals are too disabled or have been too traumatized to be able survive on their own. For these animals, the long-term care offered in the sanctuaries are their only hope of survival.
WARF is well known for its Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) in Phuket, established in 1990 by Asia Wildlife. In 1994 the GRP became the research arm of the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand where its project at Bang Pae Waterfall, Tambon Pa Klok, Phuket is situated. As part of the rehabilitation process, gibbons are successively moved further and further from humans, both geographically and in terms of human contact. Once a pair of gibbons is deemed fit to survive on their own, they are released into the wild on an undeveloped island. The successful gibbon releases into the wild, at the GRP, has been a culmination of nearly 10 years of planning, study and preparation. The ongoing study and assessment of this success is helping to pave the way for successful releases in other areas. In addition to its work with gibbons, the GRP runs the Gibbon Rehabilitation Educational Project (GREP). Its primary goal is educating visitors and the local community alike about the protection of gibbons and of their rainforest habitat in general. GREP also plays an important role in building communication links between GRP and the local Thai community. GREP gives educational presentations to primary and secondary schools in Phuket, lectures and presentations for community groups and universities and provides guided tours at the gibbon rehabilitation site. In November 2000 WARF employed a full time Thai veterinary surgeon to work at the GRP.
In 1994, a joint operation started with the Royal Forestry Department and WARF at Krabok Koo. The Krabok Koo project, situated 150kms east of Bangkok, shelters gibbons, macaques, Asiatic black bears and Malayan sun bears that have either been abandoned or confiscated by the authorities. The goal being to care for captive species, to rehabilitate, to educate and to provide facilities similar to the Phuket project. Krabok Koo is on 180 acres of land provided by the Royal Forestry Department. They took over control of this project in 1998 and it now supports a total of over 600 animals
In 1995 another joint project was established in cooperation with the Royal Thai Army at Lopburi. Situated 120 kms north of Bangkok the rescue centre and zoo, house over 300 animals. WARF support the zoo by providing food, veterinary expertise and volunteer staff and also manages a rescue centre that works with cases both inside and outside the zoo.
Since 1998 WARF has been cooperating with the owners of the Mae Sot Experimental Fruit Farm and Sanctuary. Known as Highland Farm, in Tak province, this sanctuary currently houses 20 gibbons. WARF assist in providing volunteers and professional veterinary help.
The Ayutthaya Elephant Camp is a working elephant camp where the animals are mainly used for tourist rides. WARF's role here is to ensure that the animals are given adequate care and treated humanely. Sites like this are important since they provide work and income to replace that lost when the traditional form of elephant work, logging, was banned in Thailand. WARF provides consultation and assistance to this establishment.
At the Kui Buri National Park in Prachuab Kiri Khan province, WARF has been working together with other organizations to stop human-elephant clashes occurring in the area and to increase the food supply for the wild Asian elephant herds. The unchecked destruction of the national forest reserve has destroyed much of the elephant's natural habitat causing an enduring food shortage. Inevitably, conflicts have arisen as herds of elephants come out of the forest to feed in nearby plantations, while local farmers watch their livelihoods being destroyed. As a result many elephants have lost their lives through shootings and poisonings. The Elephant Feeding Project aims to create an ecosystem which accommodates both elephants and people, where both must make concessions in order to live together in mutual accord. This project will run for at least 4 years. The goal is to re-build and preserve the elephant's habitat and food supply by reforestation, to educate local villagers and offer alternative livelihoods, to those people who have been displaced.
WARF has an all-volunteer animal rescue team that consists of trained volunteers, who are on call 24 hours per day. WARF responds to calls from the Royal Forestry Department, the police and concerned individuals. Due to generous donation by Ford, and by the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) who each donated a 4 wheel drive vehicle, WARF now operate two Mobile Animal Clinics (MAC), used in rescue operations throughout Thailand.
WARF accepts fee-paying volunteers at its sanctuary sites as a means of providing valuable experience to veterinary students and people interested in working in animal conservation. In addition we have a number of experienced veterinary surgeons from many parts of the world who have volunteered their services. Ecovolunteers are recruited by travel agencies, such as Ecovolunteer and ECONET and by publicity via the internet etc.
At the beginning of 2001 WARF began yet another ambitious project. Known as the Wild Animal Rescue and Education Project, at Baan Talae Nork, 80kms south of Ranong, this project is now already up and running. WARF, earlier this year purchased a site close to village where it has already built a schoolhouse, education centre and volunteer accommodation. In addition the Royal Thai Forestry Department have generously donated 600 rai of pristine mountainous rain forest, immediately behind the WARF site, which will provide an ideal location to re-house animals requiring long-term care. Working in conjunction with WARF's Gibbon Re-habilitation Project (GRP), Phuket, just 200kms to the south, the centre here will focus both on education, local village participation and development as well of course providing a sanctuary for endangered species. Funding for Phase 1 has already been achieved, with the purchase of land, the building of the education centre and accommodation. Phase 2 will involve the building of quarantine enclosures, gibbon islands, further animal enclosures and additional volunteer accommodation. Phase 3 calls for a mobile schoolhouse that can tour the remote rural areas of the province. The total budget 10m baht and WARF are actively seeking major funding sources to complete this important project.
As well as education and awareness of conservation issues, WARF's other main concern is to draw attention to the illegal wild life trade in endangered species. See our web-site pages for more information.
We have been assisted by the International Primate Protection League (IPPL), World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), International Wildlife Coalition (IWC), Care for the Wild, Born Free Foundation, Amway, the Summerlee Foundation, the Australian, British, Canadian and German Embassies, A & K Global Foundation, Ford (Thailand), Kiedanren Nature Conservation, RSPCA, Columbus Zoo, as well as many other organizations and generous individuals both local and overseas. We welcome assistance in cash and kind, volunteers to help with our work, and experts who can advise us.