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Projects in Myanmar

Hospital Grounds Updates: Fresh Water, School, Grass Plantation

Vanessa Gagne

AES is delighted to share this report recapping their past efforts with the elephant hospital in Myanmar. We have been able to financially support this project for over two years due to YOUR generous contributions:

Main Hospital

Main Hospital

We constructed the elephant hospital which was funded by AES in 2014. This is the first building for treating and dispensing medication to sick elephants in Myanmar. This hospital is intended for all elephants; not just government elephants but also for privately owned elephants whose owners want to have their health assessed.

AES also funded this shelter where we can keep the sick or the babies and mother elephants under the shade of this building.

Infirmary

Infirmary

The grass was planted last year and the grass plantation was widened this year by about one acre by the mahouts. This grass is intended for babies or infirm elephants at the hospital.

Grass Plantation

Grass Plantation

AES funded water resources in 2016 not only for the elephants but also for mahouts’ families in that area. Clean water pumped from this well is used not only for washing and cooking but for drinking as well. The water tank can store about 800 or 900 gallons.

Water line to hospital

Water line to hospital

This is the primary school for mahouts’ children who are living at the elephant hospital. The school teachers’ salaries are provided by the Myanma Timber Enterprise. The funds for this building were provided by AES in 2016. During the 2016 academic year, we had five primary school children and more than five preschool children in attendance.

Elephant Hospital

Vanessa Gagne

The Elephant Hospital

The Elephant Hospital

The Myanmar Elephant Hospital is situated in the Bago (East) region in the central part of the country. It is located 138 miles from the city of Yangon and 40 miles from the city of Taungoo. The hospital was constructed by the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE) under the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.

There are four MTE elephant agencies in Bago (East) and three agencies in Bago (West) for a total of approximately 400 captive elephants in the region. Besides these elephants, the hospital will help other elephants from the Nay Pyi Taw and Ayeyarwaddy regions, as well as privately owned elephants.

The area surrounding the hospital has approximately 6000 acres of forest for elephants, and some wild elephants use this forest. The hospital land sits on both sides of a small river.

The objectives of the Myanmar Elephant Hospital are as follows:

  1. To provide good elephant health care,
  2. To enable elephant research with local and international experts and other range countries in Asia,
  3. To provide care for old or disabled captive elephants,
  4. To promote elephant conservation and forest protection.

In the Myanmar Elephant Hospital area, there are 30 houses for Mahouts (elephant handlers) and their families, and one main hospital building.

Mahout Housing

Mahout Housing

In addition to the buildings, more than 500 plants (multiple species) have been planted around the hospital grounds. Nurseries for trees and plants will be established so that the area can be replanted every year. Fodder plants for elephant food will be grown on site.

During the first phase of construction, Asian Elephant Support provided funds to purchase building supplies and equipment, and to install a water resource system for the hospital building and the mahout living area consisting of wells and pipes. Solar panels for electricity for the hospital and mahout houses have been donated by the local community.

Water system for hospital, school, and homes

Water system for hospital, school, and homes

Elephant Foot Care Session

Vanessa Gagne

Since 2013 Asian Elephant Support has been collaborating and supporting training of staff in elephant camps managed by the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE) in Burma (now called Myanmar).  This includes supporting the training of veterinarians, veterinary assistants, camp managers, mahouts, and timber rangers in the camps, and includes topics such as elephant health and husbandry, field navigation with GPS and maps, recording and recordkeeping of data, and exchanges with staff from similar programs in other Asian countries.

To continually improve the management and health care of their captive elephants, MTE conducted a training workshop for veterinarians, veterinary assistants, and mahouts from September 14 to 20, 2015. Invited presenters were Dr. Christopher Stremme, elephant veterinarian from Indonesia and elephant manager Heidi Riddle.  The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Zaw Min Oo, Assistant Manager, MTE Veterinary Services.

The workshop started on September 14 at the MTE training school in Taungoo, Bago region. During the first day lectures were given on differences between Asian and African elephants, captive elephant management in western facilities, training elephants for foot care, elephant foot anatomy and physiology, elephant foot problems and diseases, as well as treatment and prevention. Participants in the session included 18 veterinary assistants and 12 mahouts. From September 15-20 the session was continued in the Phokyar elephant camp close to the town of Taungoo.

During this time practical demonstrations using the camp elephants were given about training elephants for foot care and conducting foot care. From the second day on the participants were divided into 4 groups; two elephants with their mahouts were assigned to each group. The groups were supervised to start training their elephants and to conduct basic foot care procedures. Participants were extremely interested, enthusiastic, and participated very well in the practical activities. By the end of the session all the elephants used during the practical part were able to be handled for basic foot care, and the participants seemed to have gotten a good basic understanding of the principles of elephant foot care. Foot care tools donated earlier in the year by the Elephant Managers Association and by AES were given to all participants of the session and to mahouts from the Phokyar camp to enable them to continue this elephant care after the session ended.

In addition to the Phokyar elephant camp, two other camps (Myaing Hay Wun and Green Hill Valley) managing MTE elephants were visited. Captive elephant management and foot care topics were discussed via presentations and practical demonstrations. Foot care tools were also distributed to mahouts in these camps.

Further collaborations including training and knowledge exchange between elephant management programs and staff from Myanmar and other Asian elephant range countries (i.e. Sumatra-Indonesia) are planned for the future.

Mahouts Benefit from our Caring

Vanessa Gagne

In collaboration with two other elephant organizations, Asian Elephant Support (AES) recently supported the daily work of mahouts at an elephant timber camp in Myanmar via a donation to the mahouts of much needed equipment: backpacks for use during patrols.

 An AES partner organization, the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), supports staff training at the Myaing Hay Wun camp. During a recent visit in early December, IEF provided training to the camp staff in GPS use and field navigation with colleagues from Sumatra-Indonesia who have expertise in GPS training: Edy Sunardi, Manager Tangkahan Conservation Response Units (CRU), and Zul Asfi, Field Project Manager, Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC). Edy and Zul instructed the Myanmar mahouts (via presentations and hands on practical work) in GPS use, field navigation, and data collection (i.e. wildlife monitoring, illegal activities, human-elephant conflict, etc.) while on patrol. The Myanmar staff were very interested and involved in the training. In the evenings presentations were given to the mahouts on various topics such as elephant management in western elephant facilities, and the work of the elephant patrols (Conservation Response Units) in Sumatra.

In addition to the backpacks presented by AES, the mahout staff at the camp also received uniforms and GPS units from IEF, as well as elephant foot care tools from the Elephant Managers Association. The Myanmar mahouts were very appreciative of the donated items and the training, and they look forward to continuing an exchange of information with elephant colleagues, both in Asia and the west.

Elephant Veterinarians Sharing Knowledge in Myanmar

Chris Reifschneider

Second Regional Asian Elephant Veterinary Workshop Participants

Second Regional Asian Elephant Veterinary Workshop Participants

In March 2014, Asian Elephant Support (AES) collaborated with other organizations to host the Second Regional Asian Elephant Veterinary Workshop in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. This workshop was hosted by the University of Veterinary Science and the Myanmar Timber Enterprise and was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Asian Elephant Conservation Fund.

Bath time at Pinloung timber camp.

Bath time at Pinloung timber camp.

Workshop participants were veterinarians from around Asia who have field experience in elephant health and medicine. Participants represented several Asian elephant range countries including India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.  Other guest speakers came from Singapore and the United States.  The presentations covered general elephant health issues, disease management, and foot care, while the practical sessions addressed laboratory protocols and wildlife immobilization. In addition, the workshop provided participants with the opportunity to visit several elephant facilities in the area, including the zoo and a working timber camp.  One of the highlights for the participants was the chance to see the sacred white elephants, which are housed in a special pavilion in Nay Pyi Taw.

Veterinarians from Sri Lanka and Nepal share experiences.

Veterinarians from Sri Lanka and Nepal share experiences.

AES helped host the first regional veterinary workshop in Sumatra, Indonesia, in March 2012. These regional workshops are an important opportunity for elephant veterinarians to network and to share  experience and information. By continuing to provide these educational opportunities and by providing support for medical equipment and supplies in Myanmar, AES is demonstrating our continued commitment to improve the health of wild and captive elephants in Asia. We believe in the power of education. Helping people help elephants is a powerful way to brighten the future of Asian elephants!  If you share our belief that support for educational opportunities is important to maximize learning and communication for veterinarians and other elephant care givers, please consider making a donation today.

Refrigerator donated by AES to store elephant medicine and samples

Refrigerator donated by AES to store elephant medicine and samples

Waiting for medical check-up at Pinloung timber camp.

Waiting for medical check-up at Pinloung timber camp.

Support of Veterinary Care for Myanmar's Timber Elephants

Chris Reifschneider

An important part of Asian Elephant Support’s (AES) mission is to support veterinary care for elephants in Asian range countries. Through interactions with elephant veterinarians from around Asia during the AES facilitated Regional Asian Elephant Veterinary Workshop held in Banda Aceh, Sumatra-Indonesia in March 2012, AES has made many connections and continues to support the development of veterinary expertise with elephants in Asia.

Ultrasound assessment to detect pregnancy

Ultrasound assessment to detect pregnancy

In December 2012, this networking helped AES facilitate a visit to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) by several elephant veterinarians and managers. The group’s visit was hosted by the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE), a government agency that oversees the care and management of approximately 3000 elephants in Myanmar. This country has a large number of captive elephants that are still used for logging work in the forests.

During the trip, several MTE forest camps around the country were visited; these included logging, training, and rest camps. The overall care and management of these working elephants is closely monitored, and MTE has a large staff of well-qualified veterinarians who were most welcoming, sharing experiences and expertise with the visiting veterinarians. A particular interest for the MTE veterinarians was learning more about the use of ultrasound technology in elephants. One of the AES supported veterinarians brought a field ultrasound unit, enabling practical demonstrations of its use in a variety of medical issues such as detecting pregnancy, evaluating medical conditions such as abscesses or tumors, and assessing some internal organs. The group had numerous fruitful discussions with MTE staff to determine how best to help support ongoing care and management of the elephants in this country.

In addition to facilitating the sharing of professional experiences, AES was pleased to make a contribution enabling the purchase of needed medicines and supplies for the timber elephants of Myanmar, and looks forward to being of further assistance to this important population of Asian elephants.