Classical piano soothes old elephants at Thai sanctuary

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British volunteer Paul Barton and his daughter Emily Barton, 4, play piano for sick, abused, retired and rescued elephants in sanctuary along Thailand-Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, December 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
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British volunteer Paul Barton and his daughter Emily Barton, 4, play piano for sick, abused, retired and rescued elephants in sanctuary along Thailand-Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, December 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Elephants eat their breakfast as they listen British volunteer Paul Barton plays piano for sick, abused, retired and rescued elephants in sanctuary along Thailand Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, December 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
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British volunteer Paul Barton plays piano for sick, abused, retired and rescued elephants in sanctuary along Thailand-Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, December 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
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British volunteer Paul Barton plays piano for sick, abused, retired and rescued elephants in sanctuary along Thailand-Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, December 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
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British volunteer Paul Barton unloads his piano before he plays for sick, abused, retired and rescued elephants in sanctuary along Thailand-Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, December 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
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British volunteer Paul Barton plays piano for sick, abused, retired and rescued elephants in sanctuary along Thailand-Myanmar border in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, December 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 December 2018
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Classical piano soothes old elephants at Thai sanctuary

  • At another music session, several elephants seemed to move their heads and move about in front of the piano as the notes flowed

KANCHANABURI, Thailand: Lam Duan, a 65-year-old, blind Thai elephant is enjoying her lunch, listening to Silent Night being played on a piano.
For eight years, pachyderms like Lam Duan — old, overworked and sometimes disabled — have been rehabilitated with music at Elephants World, a retirement sanctuary for the animals in the western Thai province of Kanchanaburi.
Almost 80 percent of about 3,000 elephants at tourist venues in Thailand, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal and Sri Lanka, endure poor living conditions and diets and are overworked, according to the animal welfare group World Animal Protection.
The animals at Elephants World get good food and treatment for their physical ailments, but the music is an extra, special treat they appear to love.
Several times a week, British classical pianist Paul Barton, 57, sets up a piano against a backdrop of forested slopes and plays for his four-legged friends.
“Maybe some of these blind elephants get a little bit of comfort from hearing pieces of soothing classical music occasionally,” says Barton, who studied at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.
Lam Duan approached Barton as he began to play and she appeared to calm down and focus on the music.
At another music session, several elephants seemed to move their heads and move about in front of the piano as the notes flowed.
The owner of the sanctuary, Samart Prasithpol, 44, said the music seemed to provide the elephants with some special comfort.
“We work here to rehabilitate the elephants physically,” Smart told Reuters.
“The use of music has been useful in rehabilitating their soul,” he said.


Rare footage of Brazil tribe threatened by loggers: activists

Grab of a video shot by Midia India on August 2018 and released by Survival International activits of a purportedly uncontacted member of a Brazilian indigenous tribe hunting in the Amazon rainforest near Sao Luis, Maranhao, Brazil. (AFP)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Rare footage of Brazil tribe threatened by loggers: activists

  • Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has been accused of harming the Amazon rainforest and indigenous peoples in order to benefit loggers, miners and farmers who helped get him elected

RIO DE JANEIRO: Rare footage of purportedly uncontacted members of a Brazilian indigenous tribe hunting in the Amazon rainforest was released Monday by activists who warn the group could be wiped out by logging.
The 58-second clip filmed in the northern state of Maranhao shows members of the Awa tribe, which Survival International says has been frequently attacked by loggers who have been emboldened by pro-business President Jair Bolsonaro.
“Only a global outcry stands between them and genocide,” said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, which published the video that had been shot by a member of neighboring indigenous tribe Guajajara. The footage was shot in August, the NGO said.
“Loggers have already killed many of their relatives and forced others out of the forest.
“President Bolsonaro and his friends in the logging industry would like nothing more than for those who still survive to be eliminated.”
In the footage, a young man holding a machete in the rainforest appears to sniff the blade before he looks toward the person filming him. Seconds later he and other members of the tribe carrying spears run away.
“We didn’t have the Awa’s permission to film, but we know that it’s important to use these images because if we don’t show them around the world, the Awa will be killed by loggers,” said Erisvan Guajajara of Midia India, an indigenous film-making association.
Members of the Guajajara tribe belong to the Guardians of the Amazon group, which aims to protect isolated indigenous people.
While most Awa have been contacted, some are known to still live uncontacted in an area of rainforest that is being “rapidly destroyed,” Survival International said.
Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has been accused of harming the Amazon rainforest and indigenous peoples in order to benefit loggers, miners and farmers who helped get him elected.
Bolsonaro, whose anti-environment rhetoric has included a pledge to end “Shiite ecologist activism,” has questioned the latest official figures showing deforestation increased 88 percent in June compared with the same period last year.
He uses the word “Shiite” as a synonym for radicalism rather than denoting a branch of Islam.
“We are experiencing a real environmental psychosis,” Bolsonaro said Sunday.
Bolsonaro also accused foreign journalists Friday of wanting Brazil’s estimated 800,000 indigenous people to remain in a “prehistoric state, without access to technology, science and the thousand wonders of modernity.”