People’s Democratic Republic of Laos,
The Land of a Million Elephants
Many names. One country.
Laos is a small land locked country nestled nicely in the southeast Asia peninsula. Historically, the country was filled with elephants, earning it the nickname “The Land of a Million Elephants”. There currently a debate as to how many elephants are actually in Laos – Some estimates place it as a small heavily fragmented population while others as the largest elephant population in Southeast Asia.
A huge part of my research is based out of Laos and here are a few primary regions throughout Laos that my work will come straight out of.
Nam Kading – A protected region in the central providence of Bolikamxay Laos. A goldmine for species diversity; home to at least 43 species of mammal and 234 species of bird. Although diverse, Nam Kading’s elephants have never been studied from a genetics standpoint before.
Nakai Plateau (Nakai-Nam Theun) – Within the Nakai-Nam Theun national protected area is the Nakai Plateau, once holding the largest verified Elephant population in Laos. Marissa Ahlering, Simon Hedges, and Lori Eggert extensively studied this population several years ago, but since then a large hydroelectric dam has been built in the area, drastically transforming the landscape. Our study in this region will demonstrate the effects of habitat transformation on the resident Elephant population.
Sepon Mine – Since 2002, the Sepon mine has been an operating open-pit copper mine located in the southern region of Laos. While lower biodiversity is directly found around the mine, the forest surrounding the area is full of endangered species such as elephants, gibbons, tigers, and the critically endangered siamese crocodile making it a great spot for conservation research.