70% of Laos was once covered in forests home to many elephants. People kept them as pets and used them to carry cargo and passengers, co-existing successfully. But starting in the 1960's, logging and illegal poaching for ivory soared and the elephant population has since dropped to just 800. The Elephant Conservation Center in Sainyabuli, northeastern Laos, is home to 29 elephants, all survivors of severe overwork in the logging industry. The center, led by Frenchman Sebastien Duffillot, runs a breeding program with the eventual goal of returning the elephants to the wild. Join Sebastien and his team as they work to protect the Asian elephant from extinction.
As part of the elephants' training to return to the wild, the center limits human interaction as much as possible
A veterinarian looks over the health and wellbeing of the elephants in the center's hospital
The Elephant Festival in Sainyabuli was established as part of conservation efforts