Elephant conservation volunteering in Laos
Description of Elephant conservation volunteering in Laos
Volunteer with an inspiring Laos elephant conservation project, aiming to return captive elephants to a life as close to the wild as possible. Once known as the "Land of a Million Elephants", Laos is now home to just 800 elephants. Of this, only half are still living in the wild. Volunteers help on this journey to freedom.
For generations, Lao elephants have been forced to work in the backbreaking logging industry, dragging several tons of timber for 8 – 10 hours each day. This work leaves the elephants exhausted and often injured, meaning that reproduction is out of the question. For every 10 elephants that die in Laos, just two are born. This means that, tragically, elephants in Laos will die out entirely unless something is done.
This project is trying to make a lasting difference. Elephants that are lucky enough to call the centre home have been rescued from the logging and tourism industries. They are encouraged to live a life as close to the wild as possible, roaming freely for many hours each day. Some of the elephants have been rehabilitated to the extent where they are keen to mate, which is tantamount to the success of the work going on here. With more successes in the future, we hope that the future of Lao elephants is more certain.
The first three days of your time here you will be getting to fully understand the workings of the centre, and the background of the elephants. After this, you will be helping wtih enrichments, monitoring, basic construction and other necessary tasks around the centre.
This is all carried out in a stunning jungle area next to a lake and ringed by mountains.
Accommodation and food
You will be living in a volunteer cabin on site. You will share a room. Three meals per day are provided in the on-site restaurant. Breakfast consists of freshly baked bread, eggs and fruit. Lunch and dinner include soup, rice or noodles, vegetable dishes and a meat dish. It is delicious, and allows you to taste real local food.
Bamboo straws are used in the bar. All bottled drinks for sale are in glass bottles.
1 Reviews of Elephant conservation volunteering in Laos
Reviewed on 08 Apr 2019 by Sue San
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
It was very interesting observing and learning about the elephants. Following the elephants up into the forest was exciting, and I loved getting so close to the elephants and getting to touch them.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Make sure that you bring an old pair of pants, top, shoes and gloves if you end up doing some wall painting, as you will get paint all over your new clothes. But
it's so much fun doing work around the camp, no matter how dirty you get!
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I feel that volunteering for the elephant sanctuary in Laos was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences in my life, which I have no doubt had an impact and benefited, small or large, everyone and everything around us.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Everything was better and more enjoyable than I had anticipated. The surroundings were so peaceful, making you feel completely out of touch with the
problems going on around the world. The huts and bathroom facilities were basic yet clean. The food was excellent and healthy. All the staff, including the
mahouts, were so friendly and down to earth.
PlanetThe importance of the project
Lao elephant numbers have been falling dramatically for the last 100 years. For every 10 elephants that die, only two are being born. Just 800 elephants are living in Laos, which is a tragedy for a country that used to be known as the "land of a million elephants". This project aims to increase the numbers of elephants in Laos, and hopefully to reverse this tragic trend.
Elephants are monitored daily by the on-site biology and vet team, as well as the volunteers. This includes their behaviour, social interaction, what they are eating, where they are going and how they are adapting to their new environment. This data allows further understanding of captive elephants that are being rehabilitated - as this is the first project of its kind in Laos, it is leading the way in this and is constantly learning from how the elephants are acting to ensure their best welfare. This information has been shared with other similar projects in Asia, and is enabling elephant welfare to be improved across the continent.
Volunteers are not allowed to ride elephants.
Protecting the world
We are passionate about encouraging our travellers to be kind to the environment as they travel. Each participant receives advice about how to care for the environment whilst they are away. This includes water usage, how to avoid single use plastic, and electricity usage.
We insist that all participants bring their own water bottles when they travel with us, and clean free water is always available. We have even created a water bottle that can be purchased before departure and encourage people to use it at all stages of their journey including at the airport, on flights and whilst on their project. We are striving for all of our projects to be free of single use plastic.
Energy and waste
The centre is powered by solar panels. As much recycling as possible is done each day. All buildings are constructed from local materials and built by local people. Single use plastic is avoided as much as possible.
PeopleMeeting local needs
This project employs mainly local people. There are 400 privately owned elephants in the region, many in poor states of health. The centre works with these elephants and their owners to try to help them to care for their elephants, and they welcome them to use the elephant hospital if care is needed.
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in rural Laos. Our policy is to send people to the developing world in small groups or individually. This minimises the environmental and social impact that the participants have on the destination and helps them to integrate into the local community.
Campaigning for change
This project works to change the future for animals who have been subjected to harm and mistreatment. The aim is simple: to provide a home for mistreated animals in an environment as close to nature as possible. A programme actively runs to rescue, rehabilitate and release captive wild animals with this hope to repopulate Laos's forests and jungles. An education programme runs for locals, children and visiting tourists to make them aware of the importance of animal welfare.
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