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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Portable Scales for VESSWIC

Vanessa Gagne

In 2010 our Board voted to purchase two portable scales for Vesswic’s use in caring for elephants in the Way Kambas ECC and other camps in Sumatra. We are happy to announce that they finally made it to Sumatra. One of  directors,  April Yoder, recently travelled to Sumatra and had the honor of delivering  the scales in person. (Please note that all travel expenses are paid with personal funding and not the foundation.)  

With the addition of two portable scales, VESSWIC veterinarians will now be able to accurately calculate dosages for medication and better monitor the general health of the elephants in the Elephant Conservation Centers.  With an animal as large as an elephant, it can be difficult to visualize weight lost until they have lost a significant amount.  Knowing the baseline weight of an elephant and being able to accurately determine weight on a regular basis can help the VESSWIC veterinarians detect possible health issues much sooner. Also, several babies have been born and it is critical to be able to monitor their weight as they grow to ensure they are healthy.  

The first place we used one of the scales was the EEC in Tangkahan. The mahouts fashioned a platform and each elephant in the camp calmly walked onto the platform to be weighed.  The elephants with calves were a little more challenging. Of course, the babies wanted to stay under mom so it took some coxing to get them to stand next to her, but not on the platform, so we could get her accurate weight.  

Often the weights are calculated by doing field measurements. However, because the results can vary depending on age groups it is not always accurate. To help better understand the correlation between actual weights and field measurements, measurements were also taken on each elephant at the same time.