Unlike many areas of Sayaboury province which suffer a lack of breeding opportunities due to a shortage of bull elephants, those being engaged in the logging industry working in remote areas of forest, Thongmixay district has the unique situation which aids breeding. Located adjacent to National Protected Area, Nam Pouy, the area accommodates wild roaming bulls. Owners wishing to breed their elephants are therefore able to release their females into NPA to mate with these wild males.
This arrangement is not only invaluable in terms of increasing the number of captive elephants but beneficial in sustaining the genetic diversity of the population. Currently breeding rates in Laos are 3-4 new baby elephants born per annum versus an average annual death rate of 13-15 as such increased breeding within the remaining captive population is still paramount to protect the species from the threat of extinction.
ElefantAsia is currently working to promote improved levels of reproduction amongst the country’s captive elephants through the implementation of their managed breeding programme hosted at the Elephant Conservation Center (www.elephantconservationcenter.com) located in Sayaboury.
The programme works by mahouts and their pregnant and nursing cows registering at the Center, this allows appropriate resting during the final months of pregnancy and until the calves are fully weaned, whilst the mahout’s salary is supported by the Center for the duration of their stay. The Center at present accommodates two newborns and their mothers under this scheme.
As for the new mothers and babies recently registered, the ElefantAsia team reports they are all doing very well and currently remain in their district of Thongmixay.