The Southeast Asian country of Laos is known as the “Land of a Million Elephants.” But year after year that nickname seems to hold less truth. Since the 1980s their elephant population has fallen by more than 75% leaving fewer than 600 to 800 wild pachyderms left.
Now, experts say that number could plummet even further if the Laotian government doesn’t stop its citizens from spiriting the threatened species over the border to China and selling them to zoos and other facilities for thousands of dollars.
According to reports, over the past couple of years nearly 100 elephants from Laos have been sold into captivity in China. That’s anywhere from 12% to 16% of the remaining population.
According to CITES - the international treaty charged with protecting endangered animals - every one of these sales was illegal. According to the treaty, elephants sired by one or more wild parent are considered wild and therefore cannot be traded commercially. And any commercial trade that does take place must do so with animals born in an approved captive bred facility of which Laos has none.
Soon, the second largest land animal in the world could pull a disappearing act in the entire nation of Laos. If the government doesn’t get control of the illegal export of its national animal, it will be more than a national tragedy, it will be a national disgrace. Please sign the petition and tell President Bounnhang Vorachith to end the illegal elephant trade and crackdown on those who participate in it.