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Elephant deaths continue in camps in Luang Prabang

jeudi 3 novembre 2011, par Gilles Maurer

The month of October brought the death of yet another elephant working in tourist camps within the World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. The death of Mae Nam, a female aged 43 years old, brings the death toll to five elephants since 2008, this figure including two youngsters under the age of four.

Information received by Non-Government Organisation ElefantAsia indicates that the female had been ill for several weeks ; having suffered significant weight loss the elephant had become weak, fallen and died.

Poor nutrition, infestation and sometimes excessive working conditions continue to be issues within some camps located in Luang Prabang. Elephants need a diverse selection of natural food including fresh grass and bamboo in sufficient quantity of around 200kg per day per elephant. Fruit is only a supplementary requirement to an elephant’s diet. Other needs to maintain healthy animals include constant access to water, sufficient shaded areas to rest from the sun and arranged resting periods.

ElefantAsia, who have been working to protect the Asian elephant in Laos for close to a decade, is concerned about the welfare of the elephants working within such tourist camps. Despite ElefantAsia offering free veterinary care to the domesticated population of Laos, without direct request for assistance from camp owners, the organisation is only able to offer guidance relating to the care of these elephants.

Investment in good quality fodder in sufficient quantity is necessary by camp owners to retain the health of their elephants that together with appropriate respite for exhausted elephants.

Tourists wishing to visit elephant camps in Luang Prabang should choose carefully, ensuring that the elephant’s wellbeing takes priority over profit and that living and working conditions are appropriate. Guidance leaflets ‘Read before you ride !’ are available from ElefantAsia and have been distributed in many tourist places in Luang Prabang.

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