We do not agree with the exploitation of elephants in the tourism or logging industries but we must have a respectful relationship with elephant’s owners in order for them to allow us to help the elephants. So we work with them to improve the level of care. This program relies completely on the generosity of others, a little goes a long way over here, the smallest of donations really helps. To donate see our 'Get Involved' page. We hope to allow veterinary volunteers to join us in the future.
While visiting a camp in northern Thailand to health-check their elephants, we found 6 of them had tusk cavity infections. Apparently some had been like this for up to 10 years. The mahouts told us the tusks were stolen from these elephants by the previous owners for the lucrative ivory trade.
This poor girl had been suffering from chronic eye problems for 2 years. Her third eyelids were severely inflamed with both eyes bulging and starting to become cloudy. We did not have the instrument required to measure the intra-ocular pressure of her eye, however we can assume that this was painful. She also had an infected puncture wound to her mammary gland, which had been left untreated. The owners were left with the medications they needed and we came back to recheck her one week later. Her eyes had improved and the puncture wound was healed. Unfortunately, she now had a cut behind her mammary gland where the rope from her saddle had been tied and caused rubbing around her chest, so we gave them more supplies to keep this clean. We later learned that this old lady was sold to a camp in Chiang Mai.
Foot and nails deformities are very common in working elephants. Their nails and feet do not wear like they normally should due to the unnatural activities they are forced to do. They also do not have access to the forest or bathing like they would in the wild, and when they are not working they are usually chained in a pile of their own urine and faeces. This causes them to develop painful splits and suffer abscesses and fungal infections. In western zoos these problems are prevented by daily foot care regimes and good hygiene standards.
We do desexing clinics where possible, Our vet Dr Eve desexing stray animals in a village near Bangkok. A local Thai lady will take care of these street dogs and cats while they recover.
On a trip to do routine health checks on elephants in a remote village, we found this abscess on Juko’s head. He had recently been in Musth and his temporal gland appeared blocked which has led to infection and abscess formation. Abscesses need daily flushing once you open them but Juko was going back to work soon so the owner was not going to be able to keep up the cleaning so he decided not to have us open and lance it.
Our Veterinarian, Dr Eve with the staff at Myanmar Timber Enterprise. Dr Eve took medical supplies for the logging elephants and spent the week working along side the MTE Vets.
Shwe Htun & Chit Shwe Yee, 38 and 31 year old elephants, have been used for logging since they were 19 years old. Both elephants have chronic abscesses at their shoulders caused from tight ropes used for carrying heavy logs. Burmese veterinarians treat abscesses by doing surgery, as it is the quickest way to get the elephant back to work. Under sedation and with local anaesthesia they completely remove the abscess capsule and fibrous tissue surrounding it and suture it back up. Post-operative antibiotics, pain relief and cleaning is required, and complete healing takes 2 to 4 months. In all other counties, abscesses are treated conservatively by lancing and flushing daily for years following.
Swe So Yin is a 51 year old female logging elephant that had a severe eye injury from bamboo. Blood had collected in the chamber of her eye and was causing inflammation and an elevated intra-ocular pressure. This results in pain and poor vision. Prolonged pressure can cause glaucoma, retina optic detachment and permanent blindness. Treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eye drops was given, and the eye resolved successfully.