Dor Khoun Meuang, along with his adopted mother Mae Mah and Aunties Mae Noy and Mae Boun Mee Yai have now been free in the Nam Pouy National Protected Area in Laos for over three years.
A rare close up photo of the very handsome Dor Khoun Meuang
The elephants were released by the Elephant Conservation Center in Laos in March 2019 and are closely monitored to ensure their wellbeing and safety. Dor Khoun Meuang is now nearly 10 years old and becoming a pretty big guy! He is now over 2 meters tall and from a distance it is getting harder to distinguish between him and his surrogate mother and aunties.
In early March, thanks to the support of IEP, the Elephant Conservation Center’s team attached GPS collars to all four individuals in the elephant release program. This is an exciting development and will allow the tracking team to keep a closer eye on this precious herd and observe what they are up to as they adapt to life in the wild. This video shows all four elephants wearing their new GPS collars.
For a long-time now, the tracking team have said that Dor Khoun Mueang leads the group, moving first with the females following. There was some skepticism over this as there is very little evidence that juveniles or males lead groups of elephants like this in the wild. However, the first two months of data obtained from the GPS collars, seems to suggest that this is in fact true within this special semi-wild group.
This fabulous video highlights the strength of Dor Khoun Meuang as he snaps a banana tree to munch on it's tasty stem.
Dor Khoun Mueang and his little herd have been roaming the south-western part of Nam Pouy ever since their release in 2019 and show no signs of wanting to venture outside of this 25,000-hectare area they now call home. Amazingly, in three years, there have been no instances of human-elephant conflict between this herd and the local communities. The only time our tracking team needs to intervene is when the group gets too close to the Thai - Lao border that runs along the west of the Nam Pouy Area and leads into Doi Phu Ka National Park where wild elephants also exist. This doesn’t happen often and is only considered an issue during the early years of this release project. Once these four are considered wild they will be free to come and go across the border like their wild counterparts do.
It's fantastic to see Dor Khoun Meuang flourish in his true forest home.
Dor Khoun Meuang foraging in the lush forest