Baby Bonus Programme
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) without an income.
In order to address this disastrous (un)reproductive cycle, the Elephant Conservation Center proposes mahouts, who want to breed their elephants but who can’t afford it, an incentive package: the Elephant ‘Baby Bonus’.
Encourage elephant natality
Our breeding programme aims at increasing the number of elephant biths in Laos
Provide an apropriate natural environment and quality care services to Lao elephants
Re-create social bonds within our elephant group at the 'Socialization Area'.
Mahouts with a pregnant cow are offered to be stationed at the Elephant Conservation Center and receive a salary for 4 years. Past this period, if the owner decides to take their 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 and entering the programme, elephant owners must sign an agreement stating that the a calf born at the Elephant Conservation Center cannot be used for wood harvesting operations.