Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Elephant Photographer

My friend Carol Stevenson is a hugely talented wildlife photographer who's best known for her Asian elephant photography. She was awarded the coveted Best of ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) in 2008 and has been a featured photographer on Nikon's website. Her beautiful images can be found on her website located here:

She is currently working on a fascinating photography project with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF), an elephant foundation in Thailand. The foundation serves an important conservation purpose by providing support for both the elephants and the mahouts who own them. The mahout heritage is a longstanding tribal tradition passed from generation to generation. The mahout/elephant relationship is a very special one, with the mahout caring for his elephant throughout his life. However, this cherished and caring tradition is in jeopardy because the cost of caring for an elephant places a burden on the mahout and his family that can at times be overwhelming. The cost of caring for an elephant is staggering. A mahout is often forced to beg on the streets in order to raise the money needed to continue his mahout heritage. 

The purpose of Carol's project is to raise awareness for the mahout/elephant tradition and funding for food and veterinary care for the elephant. It will also provide employment opportunities for the mahout, educational and health care opportunities for the children of the mahouts, and to provide other opportunities for the mahout's family to support itself such as through handmade artwork and crafts. 

Carol's breathtaking images will be used to further conservation efforts for the Asian elephant and mahout community and to push for improved conservation legislation on their behalf. The prints will be used for fundraising efforts at the international level via exhibitions, sales of individual prints, and fine art book publishing. Carol has already achieved impressive fundraising numbers, but more work is needed as she continues this very important conservation project. 

You can find the Elephants and Mahouts project website here:

To date, the project has been self-funded but Carol is seeking sponsorships for an upcoming trip to Thailand, which will be an important part of the overall project. Funding is needed for the videographer's travel and lodging expenses on this trip. In Thailand, Carol will record anthropologists' interviews with the Elephant Whisperers (the Elephant Spirit Men). These interviews and photographs will play a critical role in the overall project and exhibition. Carol also has additional plans to write a book about this very special story in the near future.

If you have contacts in the airline, hotel, hospitality, or publishing industries that would like to donate funding or services or if you'd like to make a monetary donation, Carol can be contacted at

Below are some of Carol's images of the Asian elephants and mahouts. All images copyright Carol Stevenson.

Here's Carol at work:

Animals Matter.

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