Illustrative image (Source: ​internet)
Vientiane (VNA) – The 11th elephant festival took place in Laos’s northwestern province of Sayabouly on February 18.

The annual event, which drew the participation of Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and hundreds of thousands of visitors at home and abroad, aims to raise public awareness of elephant conservation.

It also demonstrates the close-knit relations between Lao people and elephants.

The elephant festival was held for the first time in 2007.

This year’s event attracted over 300,000 visitors, doubling the number in 2016.

It was commenced with a majestic parade of nearly 70 elephants, followed by other activities such as playing football, running, drawing, and tug-of-war contests among the participating elephants.

The festival also featured various cultural and artistic performances staged by local ethnic groups.

Sayabouly is now home to more than 400 domestic elephants and hundreds of wild elephants.

The Lao government has put forth a number of policies in recent years to protect elephants in association with tourism development.

The government also plans to expand the elephant festival to national scale in the years to come.-VNA