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About Us

Protection, not Exploitation! The Laos Elephant Sanctuary is located in Muang Thong, Sayaboury province northwestern Laos. This region has a centuries-long tradition of catching wild elephants and training them to work for humans. However, it is time for these elephants to get a rest!

Muang Thong is now home to more than 60 elephants. We have two prime objectives: to conserve the wild elephant populations in the area while protecting those that are already living together with humans in or around the village. Our project has a bottom-up philosophy and was developed together with the villagers. As the region is very poor and the villagers can’t afford a loss of income, it was essential to convince them that they can earn more money by protecting elephants than by exploiting them.

By building a sanctuary for elephants together with the villagers, we aim to bring eco-tourism into the region. Already, connections with international student associations have been made. Our goal is to improve the income of the village through a steady flow of visitors. It is important to note, however, that our elephants are protected in the sanctuary, not exploited. This means that we will offer visitors to see and feed the elephants, but we won’t offer rides or other activities that generate big income in other so-called ‘sanctuaries’ in South-East Asia – for us, this would mean exploitation, not protection!

However, it is not only about creating a safe place for the more than 24 elephants that already live with us. Our mission is also to promote the preservation of the more than 50 wild elephants living in the same area. For this, the Laos Elephant Sanctuary works together with local communities and the government in order to promote sustainable solutions that help protect these elephants and demonstrate to the people that protection is better than exploitation. The project is located in a national forest reservation area and we are cooperating with the government to stop the constant threat of illegal elephant capture or other exploitation of the nature reserve. The Laos Elephant Sanctuary also will bring new jobs and sustainable income to the people of Muang Thong.

As the villagers are excited by the project, they have agreed to help build the facilities. We successfully convinced the local government to provide free land for the project. Through this success in creating cooperation between the villagers, the government, and The elephants Sanctuary we were able to reduce the costs for kick-starting the project significantly!