Photos by Thierry Renavand © 2002

History

To help conserve the Asian elephant, ElefantAsia's debut in Laos needed to be dramatic, something to create as greater impact as possible. Our 1,300km Elephant Caravan proved to do just that, drawing huge public and media attention to the threatened emblematic animal.

With support from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, ElefantAsia's Lao Elephant Community Awareness Programme Phases I and II have brought about increased environmental awareness amongst the rural people of Laos living with or in the vicinity of populations of wild and captive elephants.

The life of a captive elephant in Laos can be extremely hard, often working in remote areas without provision of proper veterinary care. Under this programme, ElefantAsia provided free veterinary care for sick and injured elephants via mobile veterinary clinics.

In 2007, ElefantAsia's vision to create an annual festival dedicated entirely to the Asian elephant was first realised. The Elephant Festival being designed to draw the public's attention to the condition of the endangered elephant, whilst acknowledging and celebrating the ancestral tradition of elephant domestication and the way of life chosen by the mahout.

Traditionally used in logging, captive elephants are often overworked and exhausted and as a consequence no longer breed. With only two elephants born for every ten that die, the Asian elephant, the sacred national emblem of Laos, is under serious threat of extinction. With the need for coordinated elephant breeding programmes in Laos long recognised by Asian elephant experts, ElefantAsia joined forces with the Elephant Conservation Center in 2011 to establish Laos' first elephant breeding sanctuary.

In response to a need to address elephant conservation issues in Myanmar and as a prerequisite to the implementation of future elephant conservation work, ElefantAsia will organise of a series of cultural events highlighting the condition of the majestic Asian elephant in the country and an international media campaign supporting the action.