No one wants to read these types of headlines. In 2018 alone, more than 3,000 people worldwide were killed by landmines and unexploded ordnance. However, the detonation of these types of explosives also impacts the animal kingdom. In 2006, this resulted in an event that tugged at people’s hearts – and still does today. That was when Mosha, a seven-month old female elephant calf, stepped on a landmine in Thailand and lost a front leg in the process.
She was lucky though, as doctors from the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital took care of her. She became the first elephant in the world to be fitted with a prosthetic limb. It is thanks to the commitment of a father and son from Holland, Marc and Mike Spits, that this tragedy has not been forgotten. They founded the ELEPHANT PARADE after meeting Mosha in 2006, so that people could learn about the plight of the numerous elephants injured by work /traffic accidents and land mines, and help them.
The Asian elephant is the world’s second largest land animal after the African elephant. Compared to its African counterpart, its smaller ears are particularly striking. Asian elephants are herbivores and consume around 150 kilogrammes of food per day. In the wild, they are now found in only 13 countries. India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah on Borneo), Indonesia (Sumatra with a few animals in East Kalimantan), China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Often it is barely possible for them to live in the wild.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates the current number of Asian elephants at under 40,000, a decline of 50 percent over the past 75 years. Their main threats are habitat destruction and fragmentation, poaching, and human-animal conflicts. In early 2020, the Asian elephant was added to the UN endangered species list.
Elephant conservation projects in Laos
Claudia and Franco Knie, the organizers of the Swiss Tour 2020, have chosen to support two non-profit organizations with the proceeds of the event: the "Lao Elephant Initiative" and the "Mandalao Elephant Conservation". Both projects aim to increase the population of Asian elephants in the "Nam Poui National Biodiversity Conservation Area" and thus ensure the survival of their species. The project work also creates jobs for the local population.