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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Filtering by Tag: Veterinary Care

Mobile Veterinary Program: Elephants and Sun Bears, too!

Chris Rico

The vet program has been quite active especially since the wildlife ambulance has been fully operating since the end of last year. Currently it is providing the veterinary assistance for GPS collaring program for HEC mitigation in Aceh which is run in collaboration with BKSDA and researchers from the University. The first elephant was collared in east Aceh the end of December, the second one in early January in Aceh Besar, and the collaring operation for third one in Aceh Jaya was completed in February.
 

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In early January the wildlife ambulance provided the veterinary assistance for the rescue of an elephant baby of about 6 months of age. This baby had been abandoned: it is unclear if its mother may have been killed or for other reason could not follow its fast moving herd that had been driven in difficult terrain during a conflict situation. The baby had already strolled around in the area observed by local people and become increasingly dehydrated and weak.  It was not possible to reconnect the baby to its herd and it needed fluid therapy, food supplements, and some wound treatments. After initial treatment on site, the baby was transferred to the ECC in Saree and currently is cared for there with assistance from the wildlife ambulance.
 

The Wildlife ambulance recently also assisted the BKSDA with the rescue of two snared sun bears: one was released directly after it was freed from the snare; due to very serious injuries. The other bear had to be taken to the vet faculty for surgery and remains under treatment at the BKSDA Aceh quarantine facility where the ambulance staff provide regular care.  We are involving our students in this care to give them some hands-on experience with the care of injured wildlife.  We hope that the recovery of this second bear will progress within the next 2 months to a level that will enable us to release this animal back into the wild.

Reptile Workshop for Vet Students

Vanessa Gagne

Course participants

Course participants

While Asian Elephant Support’s funding to Dr. Stremme focuses on elephant needs and issues, his work at the veterinary university in Aceh needs to address all wildlife that share the same ecosystem.  Recently, Dr. Stremme invited reptile expert, Dr. Sonja Luz, WRS Director for Research and Conservation, to lecture, provide practical demonstrations, and hands on training with his students.  These are the future veterinarians who will be responsible for the care and conservation of all of Sumatra’s wildlife and we wanted to share some of the workshop pictures with you.  

Safe reptile handling

Safe reptile handling

Blood draw on Moniro Lizard

Blood draw on Moniro Lizard

Parasite Prevention for Pachyderms

Vanessa Gagne

While elephants in range countries face many challenges in their daily lives, one of the medical issues they encounter is internal parasites.  Elephants can become infected by ingesting food or water that contains parasite larva.  Parasites can contribute to an overall decline in health by causing such conditions as anemia, weight loss, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, parasites may overwhelm an organ or body system resulting in death.  The lack of appetite and poor food utilization caused by a large number of parasites can also inhibit the growth and maturation of young elephants. Occasionally, the adult parasites can be seen in the feces, but an infestation can also be detected by examining a fecal sample using a sedimentation and flotation method.

AES has been working with the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) to improve the health of the captive population of elephants in Sumatra, Indonesia. Some of the parasites found in elephants in Sumatra include: Strongylus spec., Strongyloides spec. Ascaridae, Fasciola spec. Paramphistomoidea and Anoplocephala spec.  To help control parasites in elephants, VESSWIC routinely deworms the captive elephant population every 3-4 months. Ivermectin is a broad spectrum anti parasitic that is often given in combination with other medications to treat internal parasites in elephants.

As a result of conversations with the VESSWIC veterinary staff and our international advisors, the board unanimously voted to make a donation to VESSWIC to purchase 250 mg of Ivermectin to help treat the elephants in Sumatra.  Having accurate weights is critical for determining the proper dosage of any medication.  The portable scales that AES purchased last year will be put to good use in determining the weight of the elephants, so they are given the correct amount of dewormer.

Sometimes it can be very tricky to get this intelligent animal to take medication.  If they can taste it, they will often just spit it out.  One way to make sure the medication is taken is to hide it in a favorite food.  In Sumatra, they use fruits such as bananas and pineapples to help mask the taste of the dewormer.

Scales for VESSWIC

Vanessa Gagne

In view of the USFWS funding to keep ECC Way Kambas elephants and mahouts in the field for the next year, our Board voted to use funds we thought might be needed for that work to instead purchase two portable scales for Vesswic’s use in caring for elephants in the Way Kambas ECC and other camps in Sumatra.  We know this equipment will be appreciated and well cared for, and, without a doubt, the hours saved in measuring elephants to formulate an estimate of weight will be available for other constructive activities.  

A portable scale allows elephants to step up on a base, stand still for just a few seconds then walk off.  Such a scale provides accuracy and efficiency for safe and effective dosing.