Here at Hidden Depths Diving, we are not just interested in diving – surprisingly! We also concern ourselves with the community on Koh Lanta.
I am particularly interested in Lanta Animal Welfare, as I volunteered there for 4 months when I first arrived on the island, in October 2009. Back then, the organization was based at Time for Lime, the cookery school, restaurant, bar and bungalows owned and run by founder Junie Kovacs. As well as running all these very successful businesses, she also found the time to set up Lanta Animal Welfare.
She has been on Lanta since 2002, and had become concerned by the mistreatment of animals that she saw on the island. Dogs are the victims of abuse here, although traditionally, there hasn’t been a large canine population. That changed after the tsunami in 2004. There was a lot of rebuilding work carried out afterwards, and dogs were brought on to the island to act as guard dogs. When the building work ended, the dogs were left behind. They were left to run wild and started to become a nuisance. There was an increase in the numbers of attacks on dogs. It was not uncommon to find dogs being shot, drowned, poisoned or having boiling oil poured over them.
Junie felt that the problem was population control, and started a sterilization program, which is still running now. The idea is that the stray dogs are collected, sterilized, given a health check, tattooed for future reference, and then returned to the street. The sterilization acts to reduce the numbers of dogs in the future. The program also includes cats, although it has to be said that there are many fewer attacks on cats.
The charity now runs out of it’s own purpose built centre on Pra-Ae, and now has large numbers of volunteers helping to care for it’s resident dogs,cats and the occasional monkey. It provides care for animals on the island and has a clinic where owners can bring there pets.
You can help by logging on to their website at www.lantaanimalwelfare.com and donating money. You can help while you are on the island by walking a dog or by a longer term commitment of volunteering at the centre. Or you can go to Time for Lime and have a meal, take part in the cookery school, or just by having a drink and watching the sun go down. All the profits from Time for Lime go towards the upkeep of the shelter.