Elephants and A One-of-a-kind Night Safari in Laos
The former name of Laos is Lan Xang, which translates as “Land of one Million Elephants.” Even though the actual number is more likely only in the thousands, this saying does paint a good picture of the abundance of wildlife in Laos. There are hundreds of species ranging from the famous elephant, to tigers, gibbons and the ubiquitous geckos found in almost every Lao house.
Today in Laos, a growing economy and corresponding improvements in living standards are threatening wildlife. The construction of dams and extensive infrastructure development throughout this landlocked country are causing serious impacts on wildlife habitat. Whereas Laos used to be known for one million elephants, more recent estimates give a gloomier picture of only 700 elephants roaming nationwide.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been making serious efforts to protect and conserve the beauty of wildlife and natural resources that are still left. Local communities, in close collaboration with the Lao government and other partners are setting up ecotourism projects. These projects are making a difference in helping to conserve natural resources, create new sources of income and help increase awareness for a sustainable future, for both for the local community, wildlife and their shared habitat.
The Wildlife Conservation’s most wildly recognized success story is the community-based tourism night safari in Nam Et – Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL). Riverboats take visitors upstream for a campfire dinner. Afterwards, the boats silently float back downstream for an ideal opportunity to spot many nocturnal animals. There is an overnight in an ecolodge hosted by Lao residents who are willing to teach more about wildlife, medicinal plants, and the history of the area. A truly unique CBT experience and not like any other night safari in Southeast Asia.
Photo of Tiger by Nam Et-Phou Louey
For more information about ecotourism opportunities in Laos and the Nam Et – Phou Louey night safari, please contact at [email protected]