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Projects in Laos PDR

Filtering by Tag: mahout

ECC Bull Treatment

Vanessa Gagne

Last month we shared a video with you about the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury, Laos.  Now we’d like to go a bit further into their role as a provider of elephant healthcare in the area.  Here you will see the resident veterinarian Emma clean and dress an abscess on the back of the bull Phu Kam Soey, with the assistance of her aide, Kan.  It is an elaborate process to make sure the abscess is prepared for proper healing.  The elephant is brought into what is referred to as an elephant restraint device.  There, the mahout keeps his attention with treats, usually cooked rice, while the vet performs the necessary steps.  It is imperative that the elephant be made to feel calm and accepting of these medical procedures, such is the importance of the elephant/mahout bond.  This is an example of what drives the motivation for AES:  local, everyday situations where we can be of assistance to elephants and the people whose lives are intrinsically linked to them.  Watch the video below, or on YouTube.

The Elephant Conservation Center

Vanessa Gagne

The Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Sayaboury, Laos, has become a haven for logging elephant mahouts.  It offers veterinary care among many other needed services to mahouts and their elephants.  Laos is a major contributor to the logging industry, however, it has been severely impacted by illegal logging over the past century.  Now that so much old growth forest has been decimated, it’s not just the trees that have been impacted, but the humans and elephants as well.  With the population of Asian elephants in their range countries declining, the ECC in Laos is a beacon of hope in sustaining their numbers and allowing mahouts to remain culturally relevant.  The following video highlights the importance of the ECC to elephants in Laos.

Asian Elephant Support (AES) in conjunction with ElefantAsia has been fortunate to work with and contribute toward the success of the ECC.  In the past, AES has been able to fund the purchase of dart guns, medicine for their mobile vet unit, a portable scale, and more recently provide for the education and salary of their employee Kan.

Delivering the Scale to the ECC in Sayaboury

Vanessa Gagne

Back in the July 2013 newsletter, we shared how your donations made it possible for AES to purchase a portable scale for the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Sayaboury, Laos. On August 12th, AES president, Linda Reifschneider, left St. Louis, MO, and headed to Laos with the scale. Asian Elephant Support has helped fund several projects for ElefantAsia in the past and we wanted to get first-hand observations of the work being done and to meet the individuals that work so diligently to maintain Laos’ only elephant hospital.  

Mother and calf

Mother and calf

Sadly, in a country that was once referred to as the “Land of a Million Elephants”, Laos now only has approximately 700 elephants left in the wild and approximately 500 elephants in captivity.  Every elephant is important to the future of wildlife in Laos.  ElefantAsia and the ECC are desperately working to preserve this rapidly declining population.  While being able to obtain an accurate weight to calculate drug dosages is invaluable in a hospital situation, the ECC’s breeding program makes a scale even more useful.  Many of the elephants in captive situations are still being used in the logging industry.  

The ECC offers owners of reproductively viable female elephants the opportunity to still produce a minimal income while their elephant is on “maternity leave”.   The owners are given a small tiller to grow crops for income or to sell and keep the proceeds during the pregnancy. Being able to monitor the weight of these babies will be very beneficial to this program.  Currently, the ECC has one mother and calf pair and a young orphaned calf.

Bull receiving treatment for abscesses

Bull receiving treatment for abscesses

While at the center, Linda had the opportunity to observe the daily medical treatments given to two adult bull elephants.  One suffered a damaged tail from an attack by a wild elephant and the other suffered multiple injuries as a result of a young and inexperienced mahout.  This second incident reinforces the need for better education for mahouts in many areas of Asia, an effort AES is actively pursuing.

Bull with damaged tail with his mahout and owner

Bull with damaged tail with his mahout and owner

Overall, Linda was impressed with the work being done by ElefantAsia and the ECC and we know the scale will be put to good use.  With your help, we look forward to continuing our support for these organizations in the future.