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Laos, formerly known as the "Kingdom of the million elephants and of the white parasol" has about a thousand elephants; half of them are wild. In Asia, the elephant is respected and venerated by both Buddhists and Hindus. Indra, the chief celestial divinity, is mounted on Erawan : a three headed white elephant. In the VIIth and VIIIth centuries, Theravada Buddhism established itself in the region of Vientiane and Luang Prabang. In the reincarnation cycle, the elephant was considered as the last stage before Man. The royal emblem is a three headed elephant with a white parasol on top, which can still be found on the front of the museum of Luang Prabang (the old royal palace) and royal temples (as such as the Ho Pha Keo in Vientiane). Sometimes, the Laotians pass underneath the elephant so as to become �impregnated� by the force, longevity, fertility, wisdom and sacred character of this venerated beast.
Elephants in Asia, live in humid tropical forests or grassy plains. They are herbivorous. Every day, they eat an average of 250 kilograms of leaves or bark and drink 140 liters of water. Female elephants can have 3 or 4 young in their life and only have one at a time. New born babies weigh about 100 kilograms. For centuries, man has captured this docile beast, with a great intelligence, mainly to make it a powerful beast of burden. The life expectancy of man and of the elephant is approximately equal. When a 15-year old mahout starts his career with an animal of the same age, they will have several decades of life together. At 40 years of age, they are both in their prime of life and their complicity is absolute.
In Laos, where the machine does not have access - especially in the dense forests of mountainous areas - the elephant is used to transport logs. Unfortunately economic constraints are such, that the elephant is sometimes overexploited and prevent it from breeding. One way to protect it is to reduce its workload by replacing, for example, the haling of logs by tourism. Thus, elephant backpacking has a positive impact. The work for the animal is lightened; the danger is less. Moreover, tourism is not incompatible with gestation.
Luang Prabang Travel Exclusive, as a responsible tourism agent, has chosen to work only with partners who share and defend the same values. We propose to discover the elephants of Laos by 3 different but complementary approaches: .