Can I join the Caravan ?

The Caravan is composed of 66 persons:

  • Mahouts
  • Artists, theatrical and musical performers
  • Educational staff from « Community Learning International »
  • Vet team
  • Security, logistics, catering
  • Media team

The caravan is not open to visitors and independent tourists.

Only 4 persons/couples will be invited to join the caravan for a week (main contributors to the crowdfunding campaign)

However, two public meetings will be organised:

  • In Xayaboury, on November 9th and 10th 2015
  • In Luang Prapang on December 11th 2015

Everyone is also welcome to come and see the Elephant Caravan’s procession in Luang Prabang on the occasion of the city’s 20th anniversary as a World Heritage site between December 7th and 10th 2015.

Elephant Welfare during the caravan

Our elephants will walk a total of 32 days and rest 20 days during the whole caravan.

On average, they will be walking 19 km per day, which amounts up to approximately 4.5 hours of daily hike. Elephants will walk in the morning when the weather is fresh.
The itinerary of the caravan has been designed to avoid asphalt roads and follow rivers & streams, while providing shade & forest cover to the elephants.
Elephants will be feeding on natural foods provided by the forest. However, our support truck will be used to collect supplementary foods every day (banana trees, fodder, casava, rice & corn).
A veterinarian will accompny the caravan all the way.
Elephants will carry a traditional ‘howdah’ (elephant chairs) to provide cover to the mahout from rain and sun. Mahouts will use the howdah to store their personal effects. The chair won’t be used to transport tourists! It is traditionnally used when Lao mahouts undertake long journeys.

What is the Elephant Conservation Center?

The Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) is the only elephant hospital & nursery in Laos. ECC provides free veterinary care to all elephants in Laos and serves as an information center on elephants for the general public. We promote elephant welfare, the reconversion of loggin elephants into human ecotourism and elephant reproduction. Activities include visits of the elephant socialization area, elephant hospital and elephant museum, organising training workshops for mahouts, providing veterinary care and pre & post natal care to newborn elephants as well as education & awareness raising actions.

What is the ECC specific expertise in the organisation of the Elephant Caravan?

As a living icon with important symbolic connotations and historical associations for many Asian cultures, the elephant is an animal dear to the hearts of all people in Laos and the region. ECC with its cultural approach to conservation plays a key role in raising regional and international awareness of the need to protect the Asian elephant, a vital cultural and biological heritage of Laos. Our expertise includes large scale cultural event management (The Elephant Festival, 2007-2012), books publishing, documentary film making, performing arts (environmental education theatre shows), literacy promotion.

In what way does the Elephant Caravan and its activities contribute to the development of Lao culture?

ECC contributes to the perpetuation of ancien knowledge related to elephant management and husbandry and disseminates information about the role elephants have played in Lao culture throughout history. ECC raises awareness about the need for action to conserve elephants in Laos, a country once known as the “Land of a Million Elephants“. This is achieved through the organisation of outstanding cultural events, the promotion of cultural exchange and inter-cultural dialogue and using arts and culture as a way to address the challenges of biodiversity and cultural biodiversity conservation.

The elephant is both an endangered ‘keystone’ species in its ecosystem and a revered living emblem of the Lao nation. The aim of the caravan is to be a living, walking message. The elephants and their mahouts are making this journey to meet the people of Laos and the world to say: ‘Don’t forget us. We are your natural and your cultural heritage, and we need your help.’ The Caravan will revive popular and government support for the elephants and encourage young people to learn the skills of the older mahouts before their wisdom is gone forever and the World has lost one of its great treasures.

Brief description of the project

The Elephant Caravan is a project which combines an elephant walk across rural and urban Laos with educational and conservation activities for village adults & children, and which terminates in an artistic and cultural festival celebrating Luang Prabang’s 20 years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Luang Prabang, we will participate int NETS, a symposium on the use of elephants in tourism, with participants from 7 ASEAN countries. Travelling 630km from Paklay (Xayaboury Province) to Luang Prabang from 27 October to 17 December 2015, The Caravan will be implemented by the Xayaboury and Luang Prabang provinces and the Elephant Conservation Center with support from Community Learning Internation NGO, Des Eléphants et des Hommes NGO.

Who will benefit from the Elephant Caravan?

The Caravan primarily targets the Lao General Public, decision-makers, mahouts and schoolchildren met along the way. Theatrical and musical performers and educational staff from Laos and abroad will accompany the Caravan, making it a multi-cultural roadshow. As the Caravan stops in villages, there will be daily public performances to engage local residents and educate children about elephant conservation. The story will revolve around the elephant, as an ambassador of biodiversity and cultural diversity, of the cultural heritage of Laos and of the biological heritage of Humanity.