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While LCTW is a young and growing charity, our roots in Laos and the village of Ban Keun are very deep, with many of our staff working with animals on this site since the 1990s. LCTW operates on the site of the Lao Zoo, which continues to undergo a remarkable transformation into a leading hub of wildlife conservation in the country and soon will make the final transformation into the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife.

In 2015, the local owners of the Lao Zoo decided to make a major change and began to work with international conservation NGOs to see how the existing site could have a positive impact on the country and its wildlife. This eventually led to an exciting decision: to transform the zoo into a brand new facility for Laos, the country’s first ever multi-species wildlife conservation center. Since 2015 this project has only grown, leading to the establishment of the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife, a Lao-registered charity, in 2018. LCTW has provided new knowledge and expertise, allowing us to improve animals’ enclosures and diets, create stimulating enrichment schedules and provide 24/7 veterinary care for the unique wildlife housed here. We have made huge strides to improve the welfare of all animals in our care, from both new rescues to former zoo residents.

Every day this exciting project continues to grow beyond the Ban Keun site, as we implement new projects to conserve critically endangered species, while also spreading education and awareness to people throughout Laos on the importance of keeping wildlife wild. We have since also developed a UK arm of the charity, which aims to raise awareness and funds for our work on the ground in Laos.

Our home of Laos has a long and fascinating natural and human history, a place of untouched beauty in south-east Asia. Originally called “Lan Xang” or “land of a million elephants”, it holds the rich history of an ancient Buddhist kingdom. Laos is a must-see country in South-east Asia, in part due to Laos’ reputation of having some of the friendliest people in the world.

Laos has only recently been developing its tourism industry, full of majestic mountains and bordered by the mighty Mekong River. Surrounded by China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, its location couldn’t be a more perfect spot for exploring South-east Asia and all the beauty this region has to offer. It is a very laid-back country, famous for its popular phrase “bor pen yang”meaning, no worries!

Even though the people of Laos are famously friendly, the country has a tragic history which is sadly unknown to most of the world. The ‘Secret War’ was a result of civil war due to French colonization and the US war on communism. As many as 450,000 Lao people and countless numbers of wildlife either perished or were deeply affected during this war. As a result, Laos holds the unfortunate title of the most bombed country per capita in the world, and cluster bombs remain in many of the poorest parts of Laos even today, continuing to kill and maim people and wildlife. Due to the poverty caused by the war, many locals had to resort to hunting wildlife in order to feed their families. This led to a severe decline in animal populations and continues to threaten many species to this day. Despite the country’s tragic history, Lao people welcome visitors with open arms, wanting to share and immerse them in their many cultures and traditions. It is important that Laos’ history does not go forgotten.

In recent years Laos has emerged as an illegal wildlife trade hub for many species due to its strategic location in South-east Asia and the challenges of law enforcement across a large rural state. Laos is implicated in wildlife trafficking from both Africa and Asia.

Additionally, many new species are discovered each year in Laos and the country is home to many endangered species. While there are many challenges to fighting illegal wildlife crime in Laos, we are proud to be at the forefront of this important endeavor, protecting the natural heritage of this beautiful country for generations to come.

Learn more about our work in Laos