Nam Pouy

National Protected Area Management

Protecting Wild Elephants' Habitat in Laos

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There are very few safe places left for wild elephants in Asia, national protected areas and national parks may well be there only chance of survival. Sayaboury province’s Nam Pouy National Protected Area holds one of the healthiest elephant populations in the region, an area just shy of 200,000 hectares this forest is home to a range of different species including bears, leopard cats, serows, dholes and gaurs.

Because logging has been made illegal in Nam Pouy National Protected Area thanks to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Government of Sayaboury Province, mahouts are finding themselves unemployed. They turned to ECC for solutions to their problem. ECC representatives met with Sayaboury’s Governor and Vice-Governors several times over the course of the past years to address the issue. ECC was requested to propose a plan for the management of the wild elephants and their habitat in Nam Pouy NPA and propose ideas on how to involve local communities in the long-term management of the park through the development of community-based tourism. As of 2019, the ECC and the Lao government have formally partnered to tackle these problems and implement our long term management plan.

  1. Developing sustainable livelihoods.

Working in the logging industry is unsustainable for the environment and is a dangerous job for both elephants and mahouts. It is however the only industry that hundreds of Sayaboury mahouts know, and their families are reliant on this much-needed income it provides. Offering different means of income for these people through tourism, scientific study groups or through direct policing of the forest will make local communities place value on their natural resource.

  1. Strengthen law enforcement

Nam Pouy NPA is subject to both national and provincial legislation, including laws to combat the illegal wildlife trade. Law enforcement is however chronically lacking due to a lack of capacity. Park Rangers, mahouts and other local families within and surrounding the protected area will be identified to work and co-manage the ‘Wild Elephant Protected Area’. This will provide more effective park management, as they will receive financial incentives to protect wild elephants and discourage poaching.

Our team of rangers and park managers strategically plan patrol routes to have a constant presence within the National Protected Area. At least two teams of four people patrolling between 12 – 16 days per month per team. Our strategy is to use several tools to support our ranger teams on the ground including; camera traps, drones, GPS collar monitoring, market checks and an informant hotline. 

With all of these tools in place we are able to very efficiently manage Nam Pouy NPA. Using them to help monitor the border of the NPA, enforce the law within, detect threats and act quickly with precision.

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