A student conservationist inspired by her studies has set up her own running a registered elephant charity.
Jade Clayson founded Thailand Elephants following an internship at another charity in Thailand while studying a foundation degree in conservation and ecology at Cornwall College Newquay.
The charity started as an educational website before developing into a successful organisation with several trustees and advocates.
“We are a charity dedicated to raising awareness of the exploitation of elephants in tourism,” Jade explained.
“We also research and promote ethical elephant venues in Thai- land through our own extensive re- search and expertise – we have a recommended list of venues on our website.”
Jade has always been driven to care for and conserve all animals, her passion spawning from the close relationship she had growing up with her “best friend”, her family dog Jack. “Growing up and having a dog as part of a family instils a surge of compassion and unconditional love from an early age,” she said.
“From a kid I’ve always just been naturally drawn to animals. I use to watch Lion King every night as a child without fail.”
Thailand Elephants is focused on raising awareness of the conservation, protection and improvement of captive elephant welfare standards in Thailand.
“After a six-month internship on an elephant re-introduction programme in the north of Thailand, I left feeling like I needed to do more for the elephants suffering every day in the name of tourism,” Jade said.
“There was a large gap that needed to be filled.
“The public were being educated about the awful treatment of elephants in the entertainment and tourism industry, the shocking truths behind their poor husbandry and welfare but there was very little for people to turn to, in order to make the right decisions, to be ethical travellers, to support the better places that focus solely on the happiness of their elephants.”
Jade balances her charity work with her studies at Cornwall College Newquay, which offers a range of higher education programmes in zoology, marine conservation, animal psychology and behaviour and conservation.
“I’ve met so many inspirational wonderful people through my degree, that are just truly dedicated and passionate about what they
love and it makes me aspire to be even a fraction of that.
“The volunteer networks I’ve got involved with since starting my degree are a wonderful community I am so grateful to be a part of such positive environmental achievements.”
Lecturer Nicola Morris from Cornwall College Newquay knows Jade from her regular volunteer work.
“She is a great motivator and her passion for wildlife conservation is evident in the volunteering she does with every organisation she works with, from local projects such as Treloggan Doorstep Green, Cornwall Reptile and Amphibian Group and the Student Invasive Non-Native Group (SINNG) to her international work with Thailand Elephants.”
The charity’s website is www.thailandelephants.org