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Projects in India

Filtering by Tag: Orang National Park

Elephants on the Line - Bhutan and India

Chris Reifschneider

Mamatha

Mamatha

Part of the AES mission statement is “to increase awareness and offer support for human-elephant coexistence to help protect the needs and future of the Asian elephants”.  Over the past couple of years, AES has supported Mamatha Sathyanarayana,  a high school Biology teacher from Mysore, India.   Along with her teaching responsibilities, she is also involved with wildlife conservation. She facilitates workshops about wildlife co-existence (elephants, in particular)  for the local village children.  In October 2014 we had the opportunity to support Mamatha to attend and facilitate educational workshops in Bhutan. The North East India and Bhutan border is home to a sizable population of Asian elephants.  Elephants on the Line (EoL) is an organization that is collaborating between Bhutan, India and US partners to address the major human-elephant conflict issues in this area.   In 2014 the focus of EoL is the Udalguri District of Assam, India, which has one of the highest HEC rates in all of Asia. The following is Mamatha’s account of the workshops:

Elephants on the Line Education Workshops

Bhutan and Assam, India, October 2014

Role playing exercise

Role playing exercise

Elephants on the Line (EoL) is a trans-boundary, community based project that has been initiated to help local communities in Northern Assam and Southern Bhutan deal with human elephant conflict by providing awareness activities and encouraging villagers to voluntarily participate in conservation activities. From October 3-5, a two-day education workshop was held at the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. The workshop was organized by the EoL project and was attended by about 20 staff from the Bhutan Forest Department, as well as some volunteers from the Assam EoL project.

During the workshop there were presentations about the status of elephants in Bhutan and in Assam, elephant behavior, causes of Human-Elephant conflict (HEC), and addressing conflict through coexistence.  I led the workshop components that specifically addressed coexistence and used various activities to share information and engage participants.  The activities included having participants develop short dramas, participate in a role play situation, and learning how to use energizers to refocus participants’ attention and teach. While at the Park all participants also enjoyed an evening session about elephant husbandry and care with the camp elephants that are used to patrol the park.

Workshop participants

Workshop participants

From Oct 6-8, a second workshop was held in Orang National Park, Assam (India).  The area affected is Udalguri District; there have been many human casualties from HEC as well as some elephant casualties in this region. In this workshop all of the participants were local villagers who are directly affected by HEC.  The workshop started with presentations about the causes of HEC, as well as the use of maps and GPS units to identify elephant habitat.  We also presented a few activities related to coexistence and the participants were very engaged. 

AES would like to thank Mamatha for her hard work for Asian elephants in India.  We are proud to support local people that are so dedicated to saving this amazing species and finding ways for elephants and humans to co-exist. 

Elephant Health Clinics Update

Vanessa Gagne

With your support, Dr. Kushal Sarma continues to do amazing work for Asian elephants and the people who care for them in Assam, India.  Recently he conducted an elephant health care clinic in the Orang National Park and was able to treat 32 government forest camp elephants.  Orang National Park is located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River and is home to many species including Indian rhinos, Bengal tigers, and Asian elephants.  The park is 78 square kilometers, but is encircled on three sides by people who are quickly encroaching on the land.  The human-elephant conflict is a growing problem in this area, so the elephants are utilized in anti-poaching patrols and to encourage the wild elephant population to stay within the safety of the park boundaries. 

This was a routine health care clinic and all the elephants were vaccinated against tetanus and hemorrhagic septicemia (an acute bacterial infection).  In addition, some routine stool examinations were conducted and the elephants were given de-worming medication.  All of the females and any bulls that appeared weak were given multi-vitamin and multi-mineral mixtures plus vitamin injections.

Dr. Sarma explaining a medical point to students

Dr. Sarma explaining a medical point to students

In addition to helping elephants, AES believes it is important to help the people who care for the elephants.  Most of the people at this clinic are poor and have very few resources to care for the elephants.  Dr. Sarma was able to distribute 40 uniform shirts and an additional 5 khukries (traditional knives).  The knives are used to trim the elephants’ feet and to cut fodder for the elephants, making them a valuable tool in improving the health of the elephants. The uniforms give the mahouts a sense of pride and ownership in the role they play conserving elephants in Assam. 

Mahouts in their new uniforms

Mahouts in their new uniforms

A special surprise occurred during the clinic when a beautiful wild bull visited the camp out of curiosity!  Upon inquiring, we were happily advised that he has many girlfriends in the elephant camps in this area and most of the calves born to captive mothers are sired by him.  However, we don’t believe he stayed around for foot care or vaccinations!

Wild bull came to visit

Wild bull came to visit

Dr. Sarma also advised he organized an Elephant Day at his college on October 2nd and has this report:

 “As a part of the countrywide celebration of “Wild Life Week” in the first week of October, the 2nd October, 2013 was celebrated as “Elephant Day”  with the initiative of the Department of Surgery & Radiology, College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara with various day long programmes. The celebration started with life demonstration of elephant healthcare procedures to the fourth and fifth year
BVSc & A.H. as well as some post graduate students by the experts of the department which was followed by an exhibition of rare books on elephants. In the next half of the programme, power point presentations were made on various topics involving the elephantsby Dr(Ms) Munmun Sarma, Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy & Histology, Dr. G. Mahato, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Dr. Bijoy Dutta, Associate Professor, Surgery & Radiology and Dr. Kushal Konwar Sarma, Professor & Head of the Department of Surgery & Radiology who is an internationally renownedexpert on elephants. Dr. R. N. Goswami, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science and Dr. A. Chakroborty, Director of Research (Vety) also addressed the students on the occasion.” 

Our supporters of the “Hoof knives for Mahouts-India” program will be pleased to know that the knives are being distributed carefully and are greatly appreciated.  Please watch for future updates from
Dr. Sarma and feel free to cheer for the beautiful wild bull!