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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Field Update - Bear Rescue

Vanessa Gagne

On February 13, the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) veterinarians visited the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Minas to assist with the emergency treatment of a juvenile male elephant suffering from chronic weight loss and weakness.  Unfortunately, upon their arrival, the vets found the elephant had already collapsed and had been lying down for two days. After intensive emergency care, the elephant was able to regain its ability to stand up and walk around for a short time, but he sadly passed away the following day.  A post mortem was conducted and besides progressed emaciation, vast and chronic lesions were found in the lung tissues. Additional results from a laboratory are still awaited to determine the exact cause of death.

February 26 - March 1, VESSWIC veterinarians assisted the Nature Conservation Agency in Aceh Province with a sun-bear rescue.   Dr. Anhar Lubis, Aceh Province veterinarian Dr. Rosa, and Dr. Arman, a lecturer from the veterinary faculty in Aceh, joined in this operation.  The male juvenile sun-bear had a serious injury around his left front leg caused by a wire snare in which he had been trapped.  Villagers had released the bear from the snare a few days before the veterinarian team arrived in this remote location and kept him in a small cage. 
The infected wound was too serious to allow immediate release back into the wild, so the bear was taken to Nature Conservation Agency headquarters in Banda Aceh for quarantine and further treatment.  Thanks to VESSWIC providing all of the necessary supplies, drugs, and logistics, Dr. Rosa was able to extend the necessary treatment and care for the sun-bear for several weeks.  Currently two more juvenile sun-bears, recently confiscated from illegal trade, are in quarantine, and received intensive health checks and several medical treatments.  The three bears will be released back into the wild when all wounds are healed and the animals are in stable condition. 
During the treatment of the bears in quarantine, Dr. Arman and Dr. Arthur invited students from the veterinary faculty to participate in the treatment and handling of the bears. This allowed the veterinary students to get first-hand experience and training in providing the medical needs and the handling of wildlife.