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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Traditional Knives for Mahouts in India

Chris Reifschneider

The Elephant Managers Association (EMA) is an international non-profit organization of professional elephant handlers, administrators, veterinarians, researchers, and elephant enthusiasts.  The EMA is dedicated to the welfare of the world's elephants through conservation, husbandry, research, education and communication. As elephant managers, the members believe the elephants in our country are ambassadors for their wild counterparts. As elephant caretakers, they also believe the members are ambassadors for the people who care for elephants in range countries. At the time of this project, all of the AES directors were active members of the EMA and we encourage everyone who cares about elephants to become a member. Please visit www.elephantmanagers.com to learn  more about the Elephant Managers Association.

Bull carrying fodder

Bull carrying fodder

In Asia there are a significant number of captive elephants in communities with little resources to provide all the supplies for the mahouts to properly care for their elephants.

The EMA's Conservation Committee Sponsorship Program was designed to support their counterparts, the mahouts, in elephant range countries.  In 2009, the EMA initiated the "Hoof Knives for Mahouts" program which raised enough funds to provide approximately 200 hoof knives to mahouts in Sumatra-Indonesia.

Trimming feet with a traditional knife

Trimming feet with a traditional knife

Asian Elephant Support (AES) has been working with a veterinarian in northeastern India to help improve the care of the elephants in this area.  A local traditional knife (khukri) is an integral part of the mahouts' daily lives in this region as they use them to cut fodder for elephants and trim the elephants' nails or pads.  However, many mahouts cannot afford proper tools and use crude handmade knives to do foot work on their elephants. Regardless of what job you are doing, everyone can appreciate having the right tools to get it done.

With your help, AES and EMA collaborated in raising enough money to purchase 100 khukri for mahouts in Assam (northeastern India).

AES and the EMA would like to sincerely thank everyone for their generous donations to the "Hoof Knives for Mahouts - India" project. This program raised $1755.52 to purchase these local knives for mahouts to enable them to improve the care of their elephants. A special thank you to the elephant staff and AAZK members at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY, who raised $720.52 for this project!

Footwork discussion at Veterinary Workshop in India

Footwork discussion at Veterinary Workshop in India

This program is a great way to demonstrate that every donation, big or small, can make a difference for elephants and the people that care for them, in Asian range countries.

We are very pleased to report that the traditional knives are being distributed during veterinary visits to privately held elephants in Assam.