Mae Mah was forced to work in a logging camp for many years. She was then selected as one of twelve elephants to be illegally sent to a Middle Eastern Zoo from Laos in 2016. Mae Mah and twelve other elephants had been loaded into shipping containers and the plane waiting for them was on the tarmac at Vientiane International Airport in Laos when the Laos Government stepped in. An executive order was received from the Prime Minister’s office, stating that the sale was illegal under Lao law for the first time in history and the elephants were blocked from entering the airport.
Thankfully, due to the government’s intervention, all thirteen elephants were saved from this fate and sent to the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Laos in 2017. The ECC was considered the best place for these elephants with its excellent welfare and conservation programs.
Mae Mah is the core of the ECC’s conservation center’s release efforts. It was her strong maternal nature and initial bond with a young male elephant named Dor Khoun Meuang that gave the ECC the belief that forming herds with unrelated elephants and releasing them into a protected area was possible. Now as the matriarch of the first herd released by the ECC, she lives happily in Nam Pouy National Protected Area with her adopted boy Dor Khoun Meuang and two other females named Mae Noy and Mae Boun.
Free to roam for over two years now, Mae Mah is very protective of her herd. She is always the first line of defence when the herd hears the rustling of the tracking team getting close. Mae Mah will often make lots of noise when she realizes the team is approaching and they are often met with Mae Mah looking in their direction at the front of the herd with her ears out wide. It can be a tense first minute or so trying to gauge the mood of Mae Mah and if she is willing to accept the team’s visit. Overall, the tracking team is happy with how this new herd is settling into their new life, and although it can be stressful at times when they show aggression, it is ultimately a positive sign that shows they are transitioning to a truly wild group.
Mae Mah’s name can be translated to ‘Mother of good things to come’ which we all hope is true in the efforts to allow Mae Mah and her new herd to become a fully wild group of elephants in the forest where they belong.
By adopting Mae Mah today, you are making a symbolic but incredibly powerful gesture. By adopting one elephant, you are helping to safeguard their entire herd. You are supporting them, their kinfolk and their precious calves, and you are actively protecting their jungle habitat against poaching, logging and illegal encroachment. Thank you for helping us protect this critical population of Sumatran Elephants.
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