President of Thai Sekisui Foam Co., Ltd. On behalf of Hirotaro Higuchi Chairman of the Keidanren Committee on Nature Conservation
Distinguished Experts and Observers;
Friends and Colleagues; and Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is indeed a privilege for me to deliver this opening address on behalf of Keidanren and for welcomingto welcome you to this International Workshop on the Domesticated Asian Elephant. We would like to congratulate FAO and the Japan Wildlife Research Center for organizing the Workshop.and Wwe are honoured to be able to provide funds for the workshop at the beginning of a this new millennium for (the twenty first century.
Let me explain briefly what Keidanren is. In wordThe name Keidanren is an abbreviation in Japanese for the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations'. It was established on 16 August 1946 as a nation-wide business association. Its membership includes 1 009 of Japan's leading corporations, including 63 foreign firms, as well as 119 industry-wide groups representing such major sectors as manufacturing, trade, distribution, finance, and energy.
The purpose of Keidanren is to work for a resolution ofto resolve the major problems facing the business community in Japan and abroad, and to contribute to the sound development of the Japanese and world economies. To this end, many committees have been established to deal with various policy issueshave been established to seek our opinions to be materialized. We also co-operate with international bodies as well as governments and business organizations from in other countries to solve international problems. Furthermore, we encourage our members to adhere to the Keidanren Charter for Good Corporate Behavior and the Keidanren Global Environment Charter in order to win the goodwill of society. The Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, with through which we are sponsoring this Workshop, is one of our commitments to human the global society.
We view visualize that the new century will be and should be characterized by the creation of a more harmoniouszed society balance between economic activities and the environment. As we know, our human communities iIn the twentieth century human communities rapidly expanded their economic activities everywhere on earth on in the course of scientific and technological development. Harrying inIn the rush to utilizing utilize more natural resources for to make a more comfortable and convenient life we have been careless in itsabout the consequences of our actions. Thus we are now facing serious environmental degradation and the depletion in of natural resources. Pollution in of the air, water, soils and food is increasingly threatening our health. The depletion of once rich natural resources such as forests, seas, soils, minerals, animals, plants, and so forth is threatening our future prosperity.
I understand that the critical conditions facing Asian elephants are derived from the development philosophy of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, we are not free from of this philosophy, and we have not found a better alternative yet. We, business corporations, however, feel a change in the direction of the wind towards the future. That change is"ecologically harmonized development" that takes more care of our environment, people and communities and all living creatures on earth. This Workshop aims to challenge explore such a subject in mind, I believe.
I wish you all a very challenging and rewarding Workshop. We of, Keidanren eagerly await the results and recommendations of your deliberations.
Thank you very much for listening to my short address. Have a pleasant stay in Bangkok, Lampang and Chiang Mai.
Deputy Managing Director, Forest Industry Organization, Thailand
Distinguished Experts on Asian Elephants;
Friends and Colleagues working for elephants;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here today to welcome you to this important meeting on behalf of the Forest Industry Organization, or FIO, which is the government corporation that directs the forest industry, from logging to processing of wood, in Thailand. We are proud to have been involved from the preparatory stage up to today as the local collaborator for the Workshop. Mr Richard Lair, the keynote speaker and driving spirit of this Workshop, is the Advisor to the FIO's elephant programmes. Mr Prasop and his group, who carried out a study on elephants and ecotourism for this Workshop are also FIO staff. We are also taking care of the field trip programme of the Workshop in Lampang and Chiang Mai.
Historically, FIO has been the biggest organization in Thailand taking care of and utilizing the domesticated Asian elephant. The physical power of elephants has been invaluable in our forestry operations, especially in yarding and transporting teak logs in mountainous areas. FIO provided a school, hospital or clinic, and a retirement home for our working elephants. Through our famous Young Elephant Training School in Lampang, young elephants were trained in the skills of handling teak logs by senior elephants. Wounded or sick elephants were treated either at a campsite clinic or a hospital by our elephant veterinarians. FIO employed many mahouts, or"elephant masters and operators, and young trainees.
This situation drastically changed with the nation-wide logging ban in January 1989. No more timber harvesting work was allowed after that, although some work for our mahouts and elephants, such as moving out logs that had been already girdled, felled and stocked in forests remained up to 1992-93. All logging licences issued to either government agencies or private companies were cancelled. Because FIO held about 60 percent of the 306 logging licences, we experienced the biggest impact in terms of earnings and employment, especially for the field workers and elephants. The Young Elephant Training School became obsolete and was closed. The number of working elephants and mahouts was reduced by almost 50 percent. None of the sons have taken over their fathers' profession as mahouts. It is regrettable that the skills and knowledge on handling domesticated elephants that were accumulated over centuries in Thailand are quickly disappearing. I cannot, however, criticize the mahouts because there is no future in this profession - no jobs and no income, thus no secure livelihood for either mahouts or elephants. I hope that these subjects will be discussed in this Workshop and new ideas and directions will be developed on how our elephants and mahouts cannot only survive, but also prosper in the future.
The establishment of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, or TECC, in 1991 along the Lampang - Chiang Mai highway was one of our initiatives. All young elephants and most of the working elephants were moved to the center. They can now earn some income from visitors by demonstrating timber harvesting and some other skills. This center also has a medical center as well as a retired elephant home. There are also other activities in the center. The newly organized elephant orchestra and elephant painting activities are two ideas that have been highlighted in the media under the innovative and enthusiastic guidance of Mr Richard Lair. FIO is also working with FAO on a project to produce elephant care manuals under the financial support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). You will be able to see all these activities in Lampang during your field visit on 9 February.
I wish you a very rewarding Workshop. We are looking forward to receiving you at TECC in Lampang on the 9th of February.