Animal abuse in Thailand is a pressing issue that calls for action. In the midst of Thailand's rich cultural heritage, there is a dark side. Unfortunately, animals do witness abuse for financial gain and human pleasure. Animal exploitation exists within the tourism sector including the use of animals as photo props, their involvement in degrading performances, and their captivity in camps.
However, thanks to Future Lister Edwin Wiek, there is optimism for the future of animal welfare in the kingdom. Koktail would like to express gratitude towards the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT).
Founder and director of WFFT, one of the largest animal welfare organisations in South East Asia, Edwin Wiek has made it his life’s mission to be a voice for the voiceless. Originally from the Netherlands, Edwin moved to Thailand in 1989 to help build a fashion accessories company when, two years later, he foundhimself in a life-changing incident that convinced him to sell his company and pursue a cause passionate to him: animal protection. With humble beginnings, Edwin, with two friend, began caring for stray animals residing in temples. Fast forward twenty-one years, the foundation has grown immensely, boasting 124 employees, dozens of volunteers, and offices in Thailand and Laos. WFFT facilitates several different projects including animal rescue, rehabilitation, and veterinary care to both wild and domestic animals. His goal is to provide these services for as long as possible as he believes giving back to society is what keeps it moving forward.
Officially founded in 2001 by Edwin Wiek, along with the support of local residents from Petchaburi province, they have been making a significant impact for animal protection. The foundation operates as a non-governmental organisation and relies on the generosity of fellow animal protection organisations and individuals who share a strong passion for creating positive change.
Their mission extends across Thailand, with a primary focus on rescuing domesticated and captive wild animals. Edwin continues to lead this initiative, with the help of a dedicated team, mostly from the local community, and a group of international volunteers which are the lifeblood of WFFT's efforts. With a diverse range of backgrounds, they encompass everyone from gap-year students and those studying wildlife conservation and animal husbandry to scientists, career-transitioners, and retirees.
At the heart of WFFT's mission is a passionate commitment to altering the behaviour of international tourists visiting Thailand. Often unknowingly, these tourists unintentionally contribute to the illegal wildlife trade and mistreatment of Thailand's precious wildlife. WFFT strives to raise awareness and advocate for a more compassionate and responsible approach to wildlife encounters in the country.
WFFT serves as a reminder that positive change is possible when individuals and organisations come together with a shared mission. This foundation also influences the global perspective on wildlife conservation and responsible tourism. With their dedication, there is genuine hope for a more compassionate future for animals in Thailand and around the world.
For more information or to donate, visit wfft.org.