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Camo For a Good Cause

January 21, 2022

We have recently referenced camo clothing as it relates to various conflict armies in Africa. As a matter of fact, there are a few occasions where camo clothing can be associated with good causes such as animal conservation.  Conservation can take many forms such as the $500,000 or so The Elephant Story has raised for the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation and other elephant conservation causes. The Elephant Story polo team is shown below in camo for an event in Thailand. My friend, Jason Friedman, on my left, introduced us to these activities and the efforts he and another friend, John Roberts, now have underway in the Cardamom National Park of Cambodia. You will note our camo shirts below have The Elephant Story logo as well as the five precepts of Buddhism on the front which are not only counter to most principals of war but even the agendas of most political parties. Every year I used to go to a Thai military supply shop in Bangkok and order a new edition of 100 shirts.  I once asked my close friend, Khun Suphapong, what the owner thought about this annual event to which he responded, “She thinks you have your own personal army.” 

John Roberts is shown below on my far right, next to Khun Tak and followed by Khun Wee and then to the left of me is Khun Seng. We have all been connected for many years as part of the elephant culture and our strong friendships. We are about to have a cup of a very special coffee in The Golden Triangle of Thailand which is a remarkable experience and available at The Elephant Story in Comfort, Texas. 

Recently, The New York Times published an article entitled Inside the Campaign to Save An Imperiled Cambodian Rainforest. It covers the difficulties facing conservationists to control wildlife poaching in what is otherwise the largely lawless country of Cambodia. The Cardamom rain forests cover some 17,000 square miles on the Cambodia/Thai border and is one of the wildlife species richest areas in Southeast Asia. When viewed from the air, as illustrated below, very little beneath the canopy jungle is visible. Further, having been on the ground in that setting in years gone by, it is virtually impossible to get directional bearings as the sun is not visible. Therefore, the key to identify and protect endangered wildlife species is a knowledge of trails in the dense rainforest. 

The Wildlife Alliance has been directing conservation efforts in the Cardamoms since 2002 saving countless animal lives, establishing a rule of law through the park rangers, protecting land encroachment, controlling illegal logging, and strengthening the overall habitat control of the park. Given the density of the rain forest, the most knowledgeable ones to become park rangers are former poachers. Accordingly, many former poachers have put on the park ranger uniforms, shown below, as worn by the third and fifth gentleman from the left. If you have any interest in purchasing one of their jackets, contact The Elephant Story for further information as the proceeds enable a new uniform purchase for a ranger. 

Further, there have been two significant developments in eco-tourism. The first was that of   The Minor Group as directed by John Roberts in cooperation with YAANA Ventures and Wildlife Alliance. The Cardamom Tented Camp, shown below, is a comfortable nine-tent eco-camp available to visitors.

The well-known architect and designer, Bill Bensley, took eco-tourism to a new level of comfort and design with Shinta Mani Wild which was constructed under the watchful eye of Jason Friedman. Shinta Mani Wild offers an unprecedented level of comfort and style while integrating the facilities seamlessly into the rain forest as shown below. Shinta Mani Wild has also broadened their programs to support housing and water wells for the villagers as well as educational, medical, and financial assistance. Their program adds a new dimension to Environmental, Social Guidance efforts.

So, what is conservation? It is about all of us doing whatever we can to save wildlife and their natural habitat. It can be a direct donation to Wildlife Alliance, purchase of a Cardamom ranger jacket from The Elephant Story or any product we offer to support the 300 elephants in Baan Ta Klang, Thailand, or live it up and go stay in an eco-tourism lodge in the Cardamoms.  You probably did not know that social media precludes the advertisement or sale of camo clothing as it is assumed to be bad. I do not think the Cardamom rangers would agree with that observation though they do risk their lives in protecting the wildlife in the rainforest. True conservationists do not necessarily care what you do – just do something to make this planet a better place. The image below would melt the most callous heart.

Cardamom National Park Ranger Jacket

Each purchase of a jacket from The Elephant Story will result in further uniform supplies to the rangers of the Wildlife Alliance and the Ministry of Environment of Cambodia's Cardamom National Park wildlife protection program

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