repro 007Laos has around 470 captive elephants; the majority of theses animals are employed by a lucrative logging industry. Forced to work at a furious pace, they are overworked and exhausted and as a consequence do not reproduce.

Reproduction amongst captive populations is also hampered by the financial implications of breeding, with many mahouts unable to bear loss of income during pregnancy and the nursing of calves, which can take up to 2½ years. Whilst those elephant owners wishing to breed their females experience a shortage of breeding bulls as they are in remote areas of forest working.

With just three births versus 15 deaths per annum and less than 60 female elephants of breeding age left, the captive elephant population in Laos is declining rapidly. This too can put pressure on the wild population as temptation to illegally capture and tame wild elephants increases.

To promote increased breeding within the captive population, ElefantAsia implements its Elephant Breeding Programme at the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury. To do this, we offer free breeding opportunities with local bull elephants, including the Center's very own breeder Phu Thongkoon who was rescued from a life in the logging industry.

Set in 106 hectares of undisturbed natural elephant habitat, the Center is also a safe haven for pregnant or lactating cows to give birth and wean their young. Mother and calf are then observed in an ethical elephant tourist environment, whilst the mahouts are supported with a monthly wage earned through tourism activities.

Calves born under the breeding programme are less likely to be employed by the logging industry, as training for this vocation should commence early in an elephant's life. Such training is not conducted at the Elephant Conservation Center; instead ElefantAsia actively encourages alternative employment opportunities in eco-tourism.

It is important to note in relation to our breeding programme that the ritual of "breaking of spirits" is not condoned nor practiced by ElefantAsia or the Center. The baby elephants participating in our breeding programme are in an environment with people and quickly become accustom to humans. There is no need to use cruelty to train the animals, instead we promote and use positive reinforcement methods that are more effective and humane. You can support the birth of a baby elephant in Laos HERE