Photos by Carsten Stormer
Elephant Care & Welfare
The Elephant Conservation Center aims at improving the living and working conditions of all captive elephants of Laos. With wild elephant habitat being destroyed by logging activity, agricultural expansion and industrial development, it is essential to safeguard the captive population. A genetic "reservoir' for the species...
This begins with the training of young mahouts, who may not have inherited their craft from their parents. With the rising demand for timber, elephants are put to work in extreme conditions, and more and more, young inexperience mahouts are hired for dangerous logging operations.
Part of our programme is to teach these mahouts the way to decrease their elephant's workload.
In addition, we provide them with basic veterinary training and expereince mahouts from Hongsa district teach then the traditional way of elephant handling and caring. This includes the study of traditional medicine and safe musth control. Activities are taught at the Mahout Vocational Center.
Keeping a healthy captive elephant population is seen as part of the solution to conserve the species globally
We also encourage the reconversion of mahouts and elephants into more humane forms of income generating activities, such as tourism. To do so, we offer free English lessons and tourism guiding courses to mahouts who join the programme.
In regards to elephants, the Elephant Conservation Center is the only place in Laos equipped with an elephant hospital and attached laboratory. The hospital provides veterinary care to sick, wounded and pregnant elephants from the whole country. Partnerships with other conservation centers, universities and vet schools allow us to provide the best possible care to the elephants that stay at the Center.
Sometimes, our teams are called for emergency missions. The Center is equipped with transformed 4WD cars that are used as mobile veterinary clinics. Emergencies usually include elephants in musth that are uncontrollable and need to be sedated; serious fractures with immobilization of the elephant and deseases outbreaks.
Our Laboratory also provides vets with a modern tool to undertake basic analysis without the loss of time formerly induced by the necessity to send samples to Vientiane for analysis. Blood, tissue and dung samples can be analysed rapidly. Diagnosis and treatment response is now given in a timely manner even in the most remote parts of Sayaboury.
Finally, we are working with the Department of Livestock of Laos to define clear working rules for elephants employed in logging or in tourism. By setting up standards for any activity employing elephants, the Center contributes to the global improvement Lao elephants lives.