Authorities arrest two Laotians for wildlife smuggling after the endangered mammals are rescued.
Sources say the two-month-old decree is stifling civil society work.
The numbers held in captivity continue to grow despite a year-old government pledge to close the farms.
Projects are planned across many sectors, with Laos's leaders counting on economic growth to support their legitimacy.
The cross-border traffic in valuable timber continues despite government efforts to halt the trade, sources say.
Two affected provinces have already approved the plans, with two other provinces and the capital still considering them.