Tiger Trail - We are Laos

Laos Travel Guide

Elephant interactions in tourism is a very complex and emotional topic. Like you, we share your concerns for the welfare of elephants. Our view is that all elephants are large, wild animals and belong in the wild. There is no such thing as an ethical or perfect elephant camp.

Elephants and the Tourism Industry in Laos

Our position on elephant tours

We acknowledge that our adventure tourism company offers elephant tours in Laos. As a significant player in the tourism industry in Luang Prabang, we hold a position of influence and responsibility over the operations of various elephant camps.

We take great care in selecting our partner elephant camps, ensuring that they are open to implementing positive changes and actively working towards providing better living conditions and care for their elephants. Over the years, our support has contributed to a meaningful transformation, and we are proud to share that all elephant camps we collaborate with have ceased elephant riding activities.

It is essential to address why we continue to work with these selected camps despite their past practices. By maintaining our association, we retain the opportunity to exert a positive influence on their ongoing efforts towards responsible and ethical treatment of their elephants. Ceasing our support would result in a loss of our capacity to encourage further improvements in their operations.

We firmly believe in the potential for change and progress. Our partnership with these camps serves as a model for encouraging the broader tourism industry to adopt ethical practices. Our hope is that through our engagement, other elephant camps will be inspired to cease exploitative activities and raise their standards of care for these magnificent creatures or reconsider their approach altogether.

At our company, we place a strong emphasis on promoting responsible tourism. We approach our elephant tours with the utmost care, respect, and consideration for the welfare of the elephants involved. Our commitment to ethical practices extends to all aspects of our operations, ensuring that our guests can enjoy unforgettable experiences while contributing positively to the protection of wildlife and local communities.

Further details

We hope this statement helps to clarify our stance on the use of elephants in the tourism industry. Our team at Tiger Trail Travel has carefully considered the option of discontinuing our collaboration with elephant camps, but we firmly believe that our current approach is more effective than a complete boycott.

Elephants are magnificent and intelligent creatures that belong in the wild, where they can roam freely in large open spaces. It's essential to understand that there is no such thing as a truly domesticated elephant.

In Laos, the unfortunate reality is that all elephants currently used in various activities have been bred and trained for logging purposes, which is now illegal but still persists in some areas. Logging elephants endure harsh and brutal lives, pulling massive trees from deep within the jungle. While camps in Laos rescue elephants from such logging practices, it's crucial to acknowledge that not all camps provide the same level of care and treatment for their elephants.

At Tiger Trail Travel, we strive to support those elephant camps that are actively making positive changes and improving the well-being of their elephants. These majestic creatures require significant resources for their care, including food, healthcare, professional veterinary services, and medicines. By generating revenue through tourism, these camps can afford to provide the necessary care for their rescued elephants.

If we were to withdraw our support, these camps would face financial challenges in maintaining the required standard of care for the elephants. Consequently, fewer elephants might be rescued from logging or end up being sold to other countries or worse, subjected to inhumane treatment or slaughter.

We understand that our tour costs may be slightly higher compared to less ethical operators who exploit elephants for cheap rides with large numbers of tourists. However, we firmly reject such practices and choose to support only those camps that prioritize the well-being and dignity of the elephants.

Our ultimate goal is to continue promoting positive change in the tourism industry by partnering with responsible and compassionate elephant camps. We sincerely hope that by doing so, we can contribute to a brighter future for these incredible creatures and foster a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding their well-being in Laos.

Thank you for your understanding and support in our mission to make a difference and protect the welfare of elephants in the tourism industry.

Elephant Laos

As a large operator, we can direct tourists to the more ‘ethical’ camps and in turn support them and hopefully make the numerous other camps you could choose from improve, or close.

The elephant camps we support have already:

  • Stopped all riding and howdahs (elephant seat)
  • Made larger spaces for elephants
  • Introduced elephant socializing programmes
  • Provide times for elephants to interact with each other such walking and feeding together
  • Stopped using bullhooks
  • Implemented breeding programmes

If you wish to support an elephant camp that provides better conditions and care you can book an experience through Tiger Trail Travel. Instead of riding guests can spend some intimate one-on-one time with an elephant. During this time, you can simply observe the elephant, feed it or walk with it and learn to communicate with it.

The Elephant Conservation Centre (ECC) goes a step further. They are focusing on breeding and therefore do not want this valuable time used for riding or bathing. Their efforts are on breeding and socialization. Data shows that the reproduction rate for elephants is extremely low. With only 33 cows under the age of 20 (the country’s ‘breeding reservoir’ in 15 years’ time), the future of Laos’s elephants is under threat.

ECC believes there is, therefore, an urgent need to safeguard the remaining elephants and create a breeding programme for them if Laos wants to maintain a self-perpetuating population and avoid extinction of its elephants, the number of births must increase dramatically. 

Tiger Trail Travel, as a responsible company, not only cares about elephants and other animals, we have a strong presence in working with local Laos communities and supporting local culture through our Fairtrek team.  "Fair Trek | Tourism benefiting communities".

Please contact David Allan, General Manager, Tiger Trail Travel, or visit our local sales office for further information. Thank you for your support, with your support these changes have been made possible.