The country of Laos was once known as the land of 1 million elephants. Sadly today there are less than 900 elephants total and half of that number is in captivity. Habitat loss is the primary culprit for the sharp decline in numbers and unfortunately there is no end in sight.
For 45 days 12 elephants and their keepers had walked 273 miles across two major provinces. This was in an attempt to spread awareness and have the public consider the plight of these gentle giants. The leader of the pack was the very rare white elephant, which brought in people from all over to see this majestic creature.
90% of all the logging that happens in the country of Laos is illegal. Compounding the problem is the expanding human population and the demand for hardwoods and resources like palm oil and rubber. Although logging is illegal, corruption is wide spread through the Laos government. Several officials have been caught taking bribes from corporate interests.
The devastatingly ironic part is that so many of the wild elephants are often captured and forced to work in the logging industry that is endangering their species. For the remaining elephants, most are used for entertainment purposes or for tourism. Many tourists don't know what torture and torment these elephants experience in order to be trained to play or for people to ride on.
On the brighter side, many efforts are being undertaken in order for the Laotian people to take pride in and respect their elephants. Even though these majestic animals are being exploited for financial gains, there is hope in the future that they will be free and respected like they once were.
You can do your part in saving these elephants or other elephants around the world by adopting or donating to a nonprofit of your choice. Lets all make a difference and keep these gentle giants roaming the earth for generations to see.