1. Why Elephants should go on trekking periodically?
Trekking with the elephants can sound strange. But they need this.
An Asian elephant can move around 10 to 20 kilometers per day. Both of the males that are part of the Lao Elephant Homeland have a historic at logging operations when it was allowed. And without walking and doing exercises frequently, there are significant chance of their entering a bad health condition or a periodic condition called musth.
Health problems with elephants can often be related with foot diseases. Elephants from zoos usually die before they have 20 years old because of the problems related of standing on hard floor surfaces for long periods of time. Other diseases as obesity and exacerbate respiratory are also related with the lack of exercise.
Musth is characterized for highly aggressive behavior, with eventual attacks of violence against humans or other elephants. All related with the increase of testosterone levels.
To avoid any of these problems, our elephants keep walking.
2. Why I can see some elephants with chains attached to their foot?
The chains are large and long to permit the elephant a vast area of movements and usually attached only when they are near the city.
Although our desire was not to use them, when we are in the cities the chains avoid problems with neighborhood, authorities and any accident that can happen with our animals.
And finally, we usually keep them on the forest where they can find a complex environmental full of different substates and forms of interaction.
3. Do we use any chair during our program?
No. The equipment that you can see on our pictures is not fixed. It is like a “bench”. First step, we put 3 covers on the elephant skink, to protect it. And after we usually let him carry light things as tents, sleeping bags and the kitchen kit. In addition, no one, even the mahout, is allowed to stay in this bench.
We estimate that he carry less than 30 kg. So this is almost nothing and helps the male retired elephants in getting going on periodic exercises.
Before the prohibition of logging operations, this male elephants were usually carrying packs of rice that totalize 200 kg. So we are happy that a lot things have changed for your day to day buddies.