I found my way to Tamil Nadu, India via Malaysia about 2 weeks ago, and am now near Digboi, Assam. I got a sketchy internet connection and wanted to send an update. I leave tomorrow morning (15-Dec) for In 6 days in the interior of Assam, to a place called Kazaranga; it holds the largest remaining population of tigers in the world! From there I will go to the Manas region in western Assam, and westward further to Uttarakhand for the remainder.
Assam is beautiful, but fraught with intermittent insurgent warfare, poaching, and government corruption and apathy. I have been in the conservation lands throughout NE Assam to the Burmese border for the past few days and have seen only evidence of elephants. We were stopped twice the first night out by "oil company security" forces (trucks filled with young men toting automatic rifles); that was a little troublesome. The sprawl of tribal and refugee squatter settlements in and around the conservation areas throughout India is deeply disturbing, and so much of it need not be. In fact, far better places to live and farm exist not far away, but the government does nothing. But there are solutions in process.
The journey has been an adventure: exciting; at times frustrating and confusing; surrounded by the beauty of Nature and kind people; set in the backdrop of some of the worst environmental damage in some areas that I have ever seen, but always interesting and inspiring. I have so much work to do, and look forward to getting to it!
A few bullets for now.
> Learned how an NGO-NFP has successfully implemented biogas to a village in Thailand
>Visited a local NGO-NFP in Tamil Nadu that have successfully implemented a program that helps to prevent villages from harvesting conservation forests for fuel wood
> Watched wild elephants at night in Thailand
> Was detained by customs officials for two hours, and was finally released with all my gear; after paying a bribe.
> Have a plan that may permanently establish a corridor for elephants between Thailand's two largest conservation areas, and the home of most of their elephants.
> It appears that we may be working on a tea plantation cooperative in Assam to preserve one of the last elephant corridors in eastern Assam.
> There is good possibility that we start an elephant camp in Jeipore, Assam that will employ abandoned elephants, provide ecotourism and will allow us to start an elephant dung paper processing plant.
Wishing everyone the best,