Laos' Sayaboury province held its annual elephant festival last week, February 15-17, to promote tourism and conserve the giant animals that risk becoming an endangered species in Laos.
Festival organizers say they want to encourage using elephants in tourism-related activities instead of traditional tasks such as pulling logs, which prevent them from regularly mating, resulting in a decrease in elephant population.
Provincial authorities say there are currently some 200 known elephants left in Sayaboury, adding that they have no idea about the number of wild elephants roaming in the jungles.
In another development, the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has signed an agreement with the Wildlife Conservation Society to improve the mechanisms to conserve tigers in the Phou Loei National Conservation Area.
The London-based WCS agrees to fund the 18-month project with a $250,000 grant. The project will train forestry personnel to patrol and inspect the 1,500 km2 conservation area to protect the tigers whose number has dwindled down to 20.
Tiger population in Laos had rapidly decreased because of poaching for exports of parts to neighboring countries, especially China, Thailand, and Vietnam, which use tiger organs for medicine.
Listen to our report for more details in Lao.