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Elephants in Laos

  • By The Easia Travel Team
  • December, 12, 2018

Known as Lane Xang, or the “Land of a Million Elephants”, Laos has had large and widely distributed populations of both wild and domesticated elephants. Today, the population is only at around 400 wild elephants and the survival of the species in the wild is seriously endangered by the loss of natural habitat and its economic importance with the ivory trade. This article will explain why elephants play such an important role not only in Laos.
Elephants in Laos – from a Buddhism symbol to the National Animal:
In many cultures, elephants are seen as religious animal and appear in many legends and myths of many Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Also they played an important role in farming and military. In the 14th century, the anxious name of Laos was Lane Xang which means the land of a million elephants. Back in that time, many Asian elephants inhabited in the dense green forest of Laos.
Especially a white elephant represents prosperity. Because of its scarcity, a country that owned a white elephant is considered to be a powerful and wealthy nation.
Easia insider: once your clients are in Laos, they can find white elephant statues at the entrance of some temples.

In the Buddhist land of Laos, people believe that the elephant is the most intelligent animal which has a conscious mind. The national legend says that people resemble elephants when they were born. Like young or wild elephants, they don’t know what is right or wrong and cannot control their action. After leading a religious life, it becomes a white elephant which can control its action and is powerful enough to eliminate all of its obstacle. But in Buddhist believe, not only white elephants have an important meaning. Colored elephants represent luck, peace and wealth and especially white elephants are symbol of the highest power and royalty.
Easia insider: every year, Laotians hold the traditional elephant festival in Xayaboury province to show their appreciation towards elephants.

Since elephants are important animals in Laos, it has been declared as the national animal of Laos and its images and graphics can be found in stumps, shilling notes and are often seen in different decorations. Especially the Indian elephant can be found throughout South and Southeast Asia including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Laos and Myanmar.
The importance of elephants nowadays:
The importance of elephants in Lao history is undeniable but nowadays, people are interested in elephants for the sake of money and turn elephants into a tool of making money. Elephants in Laos and in the region are in danger because of logging abuse and tourism attraction.
Furthermore, elephants are also often a tourist attraction including wildlife entertainment and where animals are kept in inadequate living conditions that cause continuous suffering. Easia Travel, an organization that focusses on sustainable tourism, is collaborating exclusively with elephant conservation which went under strict assessments and follows the good practices in elephant management. We ensure that our partners are treating the elephants with respect and also support the Mahouts.



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