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Sébastien Duffillot

Le Royaume du million d’éléphants

Le Laos était connu dans l’Antiquité sous le nom de Royaume du million d’éléphants. Aujourd’hui, il ne compte plus que 1500 pachydermes.

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Sébastien Duffillot

The allure of Laos and its elephants

In 1995, Sébastien Duffilot arrived in Laos to take part in a cooperation program. This graphic designer by training soon became fascinated with the Asian elephant, as well as with this small landlocked communist country of Southeast Asia.

With his environmentalist leanings, he decided to help save these large mammals. With his own means and especially his resolve, he became a researcher and one of the global experts in Asian elephants, despite his background.

To accomplish his mission, Sébastien founded the ElefantAsia organization in 2002 with his long-time associate, Gilles Maurer. Together, they’ve been working to save the elephant, and to give a new identity to this animal, an endangered part of Laotian cultural heritage.

To the rescue of the Asian elephant

Once called “Land of a Million Elephants”, Laos today is home to only about 1,500 pachyderms, 600 of them domesticated. Three quarters of the elephants of Laos are found in Sayaboury province, in the country’s northwest. 

In Laos, about 10,000 people make their living from domestic elephants, which are used mainly to haul logs in remote forests inaccessible to trucks. Working hours are long and the elephants are often injured on the job.

With the help of the Animal Health Centre of Laos, Sébastien and Gilles established a mobile veterinary clinic. This unit visits remote rural areas to meet the mahouts and provide care for their elephants.

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