Dor Khoun Meuang

The 19 March 2024 marked a significant milestone in the Elephant Conservation Center’s release project's journey, celebrating five years of success in reintroducing Dor Khoun Meuang and three other female elephants including his ‘adopted’ mother Mae Mah into their natural habitat within Nam Pouy National Protected Area in Laos.

The ongoing monitoring efforts have revealed a remarkable story of resilience and thriving wildlife. Over the past five years, the released elephants have flourished, exhibiting robust health and engaging in behaviors characteristic of their species, such as foraging, socializing, and exploring the vast 20,000-hectare expanse they now call home.

As part of the continuous monitoring initiative, new GPS collars have been fitted onto Dor Khoun Meuang, Mae Mah, and the other two adult females that are part of the program, providing invaluable insights into their movements and habitat utilization patterns within the park. This technological advancement has empowered the trackers with real-time data accessible via mobile phones, enabling them to track the elephants' whereabouts and make informed decisions regarding their care and management. This video shows the elephants soon after they had their new collars fittted. 

Dor Khoun Meuang, now transitioning into a sub-adult male, is gradually embracing independence, often venturing alone while still maintaining close ties with his aunties. The deployment of the GPS collar serves as a vital tool in ensuring his safety and the well-being of neighboring communities during this exploratory phase of his life. The long-term objective is for Dor Khoun Mueang to establish his own territory and form social bonds with wild females for eventual mating.

Meanwhile, outside the forest, the release project team has been lobbying the government to consider elephant reintroduction as a part of their national elephant conservation strategy. The project team took some of Laos decision makers from the Wildlife, Forestry and Protected Area Management Divisions to see a successful reintroduction project in Thailand. This three-day workshop saw representatives from Laos, Myanmar and Thailand discuss previous and future elephant reintroduction efforts. We hope these sorts of discussions can help push towards formal elephant releases in Laos in the future.

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Dor Khoun Meuang