In the last 30 years the populations of Asian elephant’s have decreased very dramatically in Laos. The socio-economic practices of the country and the owners greatly impact the elephant population. Government has started to grant ‘maternity leave' to the elephant owners. It is an initiative to compensate the elephant owners for the losses of income during breeding period. The elephant's have a very long gestation period (22 months), followed by 2 years weaning, and makes reproduction incompatible with work.
In addition, the exportation of Lao elephants to other countries for tourism purposes threatens its survival. In this situation the government support of income during breeding period would contribute to the elephants' long-term survival. A bio-economic model has been developed to assess the long-term impact of socio-economic strategies on the species. The model evaluated a year-to-year estimate of the elephant population based on the data such as age, sex and location that were collected regularly by the Lao department of livestock.
Scientists have concluded that if current elephant exportation rates do not change, the population will come to extinction. This study also reflects the demographic impact of putting a price on a natural resource like an elephant. Since the last twenty years, elephant owners' management practices have been mostly driven by their financial interests and on the economic value of these kinds of high maintenance animals. The research also highlights the importance of including both wild and captive populations into conservation policies because of their complex interactions. Survival of the elephants of Laos depends on the wild and captive animals, as well as on the financial interests of elephant owners that is directly related to elephant’s survival.
By- Anita Aishvarya