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WORKING TO IMPROVE THE WELFARE OF ASIAN ELEPHANTS IN LAO PDR
Tusker Times... December 2011 Edition Hot off the Press! ElefantAsia proudly presents its newly published book ‘32 Souls’. Produced and printed entirely in the Lao PDR, this truly delightful book captures the essence of the Asian elephant and its importance within Lao history interwoven through culture and heritage. Beautiful imagery portrays the life of the mahout and his charge, journeying through legend and myth, while taking a behind the scenes look at Laos’ celebration of this living icon, the Elephant Festival. Written in both English and Lao language, ’32 Souls’ examines the world in which we live in, a world where this magnificent creature is being pushed to extinction and asks us to re-evaluate, its opening line asking the pertinent question ‘Can you imagine a world without elephants?’ Titled to encompass the Lao belief that elephants and humans each possess 32 kwan or body spirits, ’32 Souls’ makes a welcome addition to any well-read coffee table and can be purchased on our website.
Jumbo pooper scoopers! If life serves you lemons... make lemonade, but what if life serves you elephant poop, heaps and heaps of the stuff? This is the dilemma facing staff at the Elephant Conservation Center... and their solution? Well naturally it is to make elephant dung paper! Elephants eat between 200-250kg of forage a day. As uniquely poor digesters, roughly 50% of their intake comes out the other end providing copious amounts of fibrous material, and so starts the simple process of making elephant dung paper. Collected and dried, elephant dung is washed thoroughly with water and disinfectant leaving only the fibre content. After carefully sorting, ensuring all non-dung fibre is removed, it is boiled in a vat for at least four hours making the fibres clean and soft. Now similar to the manufacturing process of handmade paper, the boiled pulp is put through its paces or namely pulp beaters when colours or dyes can be added. Mixed with water, the pulp is then lifted up on flat sieves to dry into reams of paper. Once dried the paper is smoothed with stones or by passing it through a calendaring machine. And voila... smooth, usable poop paper! Elephant dung is a waste product and completely free. It is renewable source of raw material unlike wood pulp used to make conventional paper, which strips bare our precious forests. Making paper from elephant dung at the Center is not only economic and environmentally friendly, but provides a sustainable source of income for local ethnic people involved in its production, as well as supporting our elephant conservation efforts. 100% bacteria free and odourless, elephant dung paper is a novel way to communicate with family and friends. So forget about emails, Facebook and the like... put pen to paper, poop paper and make a difference. Bottoms up!
Jungle bells... At this time of year look into the eyes of any child within Western culture and you can see fairy lights, a shimmer of gift wrap..... the anticipation of Christmas! But what if there is no stockings on the mantle, nor presents under a decorated tree?
it - a tinkle of no Santa,
This is common place in Laos, a country of Buddhist faith. However Christmas or no Christmas, in one of the world’s poorest countries where 70% of the population lives on just US$1 per day, there is little place for gifts. Here, children make their own entertainment, inventing games tossing flip flops or merely digging in the dirt. With a serious lack of resources particularly in rural areas, ElefantAsia in collaboration with NGOs Room to Read and Action with Lao Children, and private business Xang Noi is implementing their Elephant Mobile Library initiative. This project takes an innovative approach to encourage literacy within children by delivering books in Lao language to some of the most impoverished schools in Laos. Yet instead of reindeer and a sleigh, ElefantAsia’s delivery is made with retired logging elephants. Capable of carrying up to 150kg - this making for a lot of books, delivery with elephants has dual purpose. Agile, elephants are able to access remote areas where roads and access routes are nonexistent allowing us to reach those schools most in need, whilst interaction with this majestic species works to improve knowledge and understanding of elephant behaviour among local communities and young people. Conservation awareness is also actively promoted through the implementation of activities based on a ‘fun and learn’ philosophy while visiting each school. An extended trunk presents each child with an elephant themed book printed by ElefantAsia, this being particularly special as in most cases the book is the first possession ever owned by the youngsters. So as the retail stores stock their shelves with tempting bounty ready for the arrival of Saint Nicholas. Maybe we could consider buying one less gift this year and instead sponsoring a few books, thus bringing delight to the eyes of many children in rural Lao. See our website for details.
News from the ECC! The Elephant Conservation Center proudly announces the birth of their first baby elephant born at the Center’s facilities on 25 October. Pregnant Mae Thongkhoun gave birth to a bouncing baby boy, mother and baby are reportedly doing well. Further information and a cute photograph or two will be found in our next edition of the Tusker Times. Or if you can’t wait that long, check out our Facebook pages.
Designed to eliminate poaching..... ElefantAsia staff have been busy designing an anti-poaching poster to deter the involvement of local Lao people in illegal activities such as poaching elephants and trading in the body parts of the endangered species. Produced in Lao language, the poster is hard hitting with graphic images of brutal elephant poaching, accompanied with text giving a simple, yet hopefully effective message that will discourage members of the community from killing elephants. The poster will be distributed during ElefantAsia’s field missions, and in association with the Department of Forestry Inspection, and other NGOs involved in species conservation and protected area management. ElefantAsia is also reprinting a trio of elephant conservation posters aimed at children which will be delivered to schools during the Elephant Mobile Libraries.
Seasons greetings. The ElefantAsia team would like to wish all our friends and supporters a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year. As we all open a fresh page to our 2012 diaries unsure of what the year will have in store for us, one thing is certain, the Asian elephant will continue in the short term to face the threat of extinction. Together we can make a difference, so please continue to offer donations on our secure donations page or check out our new products available online on website www.elefantasia.org.
ElefantAsia, PO Box 3804 Vientiane, Lao PDR www.elefantasia.org www.elephantconservationcenter.com
ElefantAsia Elephant Conservation Center
Xok dee (best wishes) from Laos!