Understanding a Keystone Species and National Icon.
Education has always been a major component of our conservation approach. Children are the future. They will inherit their country’s forests and its wildlife. Back in the early years of the ElefantAsia project in Laos, producing outreach educational material made up for the NGO’s first successes.
With a cartoon book “Keo’s Elephant Friend”, illustrated posters, a Mobile Elephant Library and other spectacular events like the Elephant Caravans, the ECC team always included children’s education in their conservation strategy. This has developed into our Kids in Conservation Programme.
THE ELEPHANT MUSEUM
THE ELEPHANT MUSEUM
The elephant in Asia is much more than the largest mammal on the continent. It is a symbol very much alive, a major cultural pillar that must be protected and bequeathed as a legacy to humanity. While the emblematic animal of Asia is disappearing, it seems urgent to show the richness and depth of the century’s old relationship that has been established between Man and elephants and to educate the public about the threat of extinction hanging over it.
The Elephant Museum is a tribute to the elephant for the services offered to humanity for millennia. A place of discovery of an extraordinary and ancestral relationship. The Museum also intends to highlight the complicity that still exists today between humans and elephants in parts of South and South-East Asia and especially in Laos where the tradition of elephant training continues, unchanged for centuries.
Mahouts’ elephant knowledge is traditionally passed down from father to son. Little exists in a written form. Knowledge usually consists of empirical training and verbal information. In order to conserve this heritage and pass it over to future generations of mahouts, we have created the Mahout Academy.
Cursus includes information sharing between elders and young mahouts about elephants’ characters, training, diet, medication, husbandry and control. Tales, legends, rituals and chants are also conserved so that this lively tradition doesn’t die out. Eventually, a formal ethnographic research is planned with a focus on the age-old Man-elephant relationship in Laos.
Informing & Lobbying
For Improved Conservation
Protecting elephants is a pressing necessity. However, in a Least Developed Country like Laos, the political agenda often has other priorities. It is our role, as Laos’ only Conservation Center dedicated to elephants, to convince Authorities that the conservation of the iconic Elephant has many positive side-effects for the country.
Ecologically speaking, maintaining a healthy population of elephants in their natural habitat contributes to the well-being of the environment.
As a keystone species, elephants regenerate their ecosystem by seeding its soil and allowing photosynthesis when they fall trees. Culturally, the elephant is the country’s national emblem and informing the public about their condition can trigger engagement. Finally, elephants are attractive from a tourist point of view and can generate income to their owners. For these reasons, we regularly consult with provincial and central Authorities to lobby in favour of elephants’ conservation.