Mae Mah and her herd are doing well in the lush forests of Laos.
Mae Mah and Dor Khoun Meuang
Mae Mah lost one of her distinguishing tushes in the last few months. She now only has one, on the right side. The tush must have snapped off, probably whilst trying to strip tree bark in the forest. The Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) team inspected the break and there seems to be no sign of infection, so it was left alone, although the team is sad to see it go!
There have been some problems with the GPS collars attached to released herd which is disappointing. This has meant, for the time being, the collars have been removed to be sent back to the supplier, while new ones are on the way. This means the elephant tracking team is going back to their roots, tracking the herd more frequently, using the traditional methods of footprints, dung, and other evidence to find the elephant herd throughout the forest. Here is a great video the team recently took whilst checking on the elephants.
Aside from this, Mae Mah (like most wild elephants, most of the time) has not been up to much, outside from eating, drinking, and socialising with her herd. She is still very much the boss, and protective of all elephants in this small herd.
Beautiful Mae Mah amongst tasty bamboo
The ECC has submitted a formal request to the government to change the legal status of Mae Mah and the other three elephants in the released herd to wild elephants. This group has been free-roaming for more than four and a half years now and have consistently proven to the release team that they are capable of living without any human intervention. They show essentially no interest in crop raiding and have posed no real threat to the local community. Although this release alone will not save elephants in Laos, our hope is that it will trigger a national elephant reintroduction program, that can help repopulate Laos’ forest with healthy herds of elephants.