Care & Welfare
Tourism for Conservation
Living within deprived rural areas of the Lao PDR, the stark reality for many mahouts is: no work = no money = no survival. As a consequence many of Laos' 420 domesticated elephants work within a lucrative logging industry. A sector which takes advantage of the poor socio economic status and the domesticated elephant population, utilising this endangered species as a necessary tool for logging in hilly and remote areas, inaccessible using conventional methods.
Working within the logging industry is a dangerous occupation for an elephant, with many suffering from injuries such as broken legs; abscesses; foot injuries and even death. Physical exhaustion and malnutrition are also issues of great concern.
Under the mandate of ElefantAsia, the Elephant Conservation Center is working to take elephants out of the hazardous logging industry and actively promotes the reconversion of working practices into ecotourism.
In the form of the Mahout Vocation Center, the ECC provides quality training for mahouts keen to develop a career within ecotourism such as English language skills. Usually such training programmes would be reliant on donations or financial assistance from external bodies, however this is where the ECC differs, effectively supporting conservation and education through tourism.
Although tourism can have negative impacts on the environment and the tradition values of local ethnic people, the ECC will never become a destination for mass tourism thus allowing the establishment to mitigate its minimal impacts. Through a sound business approach, the Conservation Center installs fair and eco-sensitive tourism practices that benefit our planet. Investing in the conservation of an endangered species, the Asian elephant and critical habitat, the ECC also provides a sustainable source of income for some of the world's poorest communities.
With a percentage from each and every visit to the Center contributing to the running costs of our conservation and educational programmes, our guests leave knowing they have made a difference to securing the elephant populations in Laos and the ancient art of mahoutship, whilst also supporting the economic development of local people.