The Elephant 'Baby Bonus'
in Laos, elephants, males and females alike, are usually used for logging. With workloads increasing as demand for precious wood increases, elephants are exhausted and do not have time to mate. In addition, the cost of breeding a cow elephant and raising the calf is prohibitive for often poor mahouts. Though potentially fertiles, almost no elephants are captive bred nowadays. The few births that occur are mostly the result of captive cows being released in the wild for pasture who get covered by wild males. Mahouts and elephant owners cannot afford to stay 4 years (2 years of gestation and 2 years of breast feeding for the calf).
In order to address this disastrous (un)reproductive cycle, ElefantAsia proposes mahouts who want to breed their elephants but who can't afford it an incentive package: the Elephant 'baby Bonus'.
Mahouts with a pregnant cow are offered a hand tractor they can use to work at their ricefield in a more productive manner while their cow rests during pregnancy. Instead of costing them money, the mahouts stationed at the Elephant Conservation Center receive a salary during 4 years. If the owner decides to take its cow elephant back to work (elephants are privately owned in laos), the calf can stay at the center and continue to generate an income for its owners.
Finally, elephants at the Center receive ante and post natal care from our vet team and the mother receives assistance and 24/24 care during delivery. Babies are kept in a specific area with their mother before weaning. The two are given opportunities to socialize when calf, mother and other elephants are familiar with each other.
Prior to receiving their incentive package, owners of calves born at the Elephant Conservation Center sign a contract stating that the elephant will not be used in logging.
This programme is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg.