In recent years in Asia, the number of elephants has diminished and their condition has worsened in an alarming way. The Asian elephant is likely to disappear due to deforestation, urbanization and abuse within the next few decades.
Both the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) consider that the Asian elephant is an endangered species. There are almost no more wild elephants left and the captive ones are often the victims of serious abuse, which at times lead to death. The situation is particularly dramatic in Laos where according to the current figures available, there are only 300 wild elephants and 400 captive elephants left in the whole country.
Recently the veil has been lifted on the questionable methods and practices that are inflicted upon captive elephants. Because of cruel measures many elephants die brutally in captivity or suffer their whole life. They may sometimes become violent towards man, even willing to kill.
According to some experts, Asian elephants are a species that will have disappeared in a short period from now. It is one thing we cannot accept, as it would be a terrible failure for Humanity.
Let us remind ourselves what is killing elephants today in Laos:
– The loss of their natural habitat and their migration corridors indispensable to the elephant’s survival
– Their use for logging (mainly illegal). This practice is catastrophic for the Lao primary forest which is quickly disappearing, but also for the elephants that are injured and left abandoned, thus causing in the worst of cases them death by exhaustion.
– Their use in the entertainment industry where the elephants are over-exploited and their birth rate is plummeting. In Laos, there are more elephants dying than calves being born (10 deaths for every birth).
Pachyderms have, throughout history and religions, evolved with men. They have always been part of the identity of some Asian ethnicities and a powerful symbol of Asia as a whole. Especially in Laos which used to be called the land of a million elephants.
To allow its decline would be the real undoing of man. It’s the reason why it is so important to have a conservation policy.
Every elephant saved from this vicious cycle is a victory. Should it continue, pushed to work, elephants have no time to breed. It is said that there are no more female elephants in South Laos capable of reproduction and for the remaining ones a hard life of labor have reduced the possibility of reproduction. For the record, elephant gestation is the longest of all mammals: It lasts 2 years with an additional 3 years feeding the calf.
We need to act now and fast if we want to have a chance of saving them.
The Mekong Elephant Park offers alternatives. We allow mahouts to earn reasonable incomes, to provide convenient environmental conditions of health and safety for our elephants and keepers.
OUR COMMITMENT & VALUES
We wish to encourage travelers to raise awareness and to support the protection of the Asian elephants. We strive to provide:
- A quality natural environment for elephants within a pure primary forest eating their natural food.
- A human scale park which promotes the preservation of our elephants through an elephant tourism policy.
- Sustainable opportunity for mahouts by allowing them to earn a regular income as to have the means to stay out of the logging industry.
- A project that offers elephants a re-conversion alternative by allowing them to finally have an elephant life.
- Bring travellers to elephants’ home living environment and prevailing fundamental pedagogic.