Calf interacting with a juvenile  Calf and mahout playing in river  Training session  Street view with elephant  Mahout on a male elephant  Mahout with a juvenile male

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Helena Telkanranta
Helena Telkanranta, the Founder and President of Elephant Experts, has a long professional background in using scienctific knowledge to develop win-win solutions to improve animal and human welfare.


Training session in Chitwan, Nepal
Marc Pierard, the Vice President of Elephant Experts (on the left), discussing with mahouts in Chitwan, Nepal. Close collaboration with local stakeholders is a key part of our work.


One of the trained elephants in Bardia, Nepal
Bardia National Park in Nepal is one of the conservation areas where trained elephants are used in anti-poaching patrolling. Since 2009, training of new calves has been carried out by methods learned from our workshops. One of those elephants is this young male called Samir Gaj, ridden by his mahout Bhagga Tharu. Today, they form part of the conservation team protecting the tigers and rhinos of Bardia from illegal hunting.
About us

Our aim is to improve the well-being of captive elephants and people working with them. We provide advice and vocational training, based on up-to-date science and disseminated by experts from a range of relevant fields. A key part of our work is constructive collaboration with all local stakeholders.


Collaboration of many professions


In order to successfully implement a programme disseminating knowledge and skills, it is essential to have professional expertise in a range of fields. In our case, this means utilizing people with a background in animal behaviour science, veterinary medicine, vocational education, development programme management, community outreach etc.

Another crucial component of success is to ensure the collaboration is cross-cultural right from the beginning. We plan and implement our progammes together with a network of stakeholders: local and national government, private elephant owners, mahouts, veterinarians, NGO's and others. This enables efficient tailoring of solutions to the local culture. It is also crucial for the long-term sustainability of the developments.


From WWF and WEPA to Elephant Experts

Elephant Experts is registered as a non-profit organization by the Register of Associations in Finland, with the registration ID number 199.658.

Until the year 2014, the name of our organization was Working Elephant Programme of Asia (WEPA). It was established in 2008, in order to continue the work that the Founder of Elephant Experts, Helena Telkanranta, had started in 2005 with WWF Nepal and WWF Finland.


Joint effort of East and West

Our work is based on shared values of East and West, such as compassion for sentient beings and an appreciation of knowledge. Learning from each other, across cultures as well as across professions, is an integral part of the way we work.

Currently most of our activities focus on our ongoing programme in Nepal. We work together with the government, NGO's and the tourism sector, in order to achieve a nationwide, sustainable transformation to elephant-friendly handling and care in Nepal. At the same time, we are looking for resources to respond to the requests we receive from other countries to start similar programmes.


Development and conservation

One of the approaches on which we have modeled our work is the concept of integrated development and conservation - activities that benefit both local people and the environment. In addition to contributing to better lives for captive elephants and the people involved in them, our mode of working is also intended to serve as one example of the growing field of integrated development and animal welfare.

In several countries, such as Nepal where we are running our first programme, captive elephants play an important part in protecting endangered species such as tigers and rhinos from illegal hunting. Improved methods for elephant training and management will increase the success of these operations as well as safety of staff, thus also contributing to increased efficiency in conservation and law enforcement.

Copyright © Elephant Experts 2014-2016
Photo copyright © Elephant Experts and the photographers:
Minna Tallberg, Helena Telkänranta, Marc Pierard, Karpagam Chelliah,
Nirvay Sah, Sudhir Yadav and Ramesh Belagere