Xayaboury Prepares for Annual Elephant Festival

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Almost 70 elephants will feature in Xayaboury’s annual elephant festival from February 13-19, aiming to promote the province’s colourful culture and local livelihoods.

The aim of the festival is preserve the culture and livelihoods of Lao people who work with elephants. Elephants are a longstanding part of the nation’s history and have been an integral part of Lao life since ancient times.

Deputy Governor of the province, Mr Yanyong Sipaseuth, who also is a member of the event organising committee told media recently the 11th elephant festival will take place from February 13 to 19 at Xayaboury district stadium with the official opening being held on February 17.

Every year, provincial authorities plan many activities to celebrate the festival and this coming February 68 elephants will take part in events such as a grand parade, a baci ceremony, and even a beauty contest. The animals will also demonstrate their skills and the close relationship they have with their mahouts.

Visitors can take a ride on an elephant and watch them being bathed in the river.

In the evening there will be a vibrant street market featuring local products and goods from neighbouring countries.

The festival will spotlight the past and present role that elephants play in Laos, and their importance in Lao history and lifestyle.

It also highlights the plight of these endangered animals, whose numbers are dwindling fast.

Currently, elephant owners are being encouraged to care for their animals so that they are not overworked and can reproduce. Their former role as the mighty haulers of massive tree trunks through forests is becoming a thing of the past and instead they are living an easier life in the tourism industry.

The first elephant festival was held in 2007 in Hongsa district, when it was organised by the conservation group ElefantAsia.

It was subsequently held in Paklai district and then in Xayaboury district, which has hosted the event since 2012.

Source: Vientiane Times

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