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Projects with Education, Travel, and Research Sponsorships

Filtering by Tag: Asian elephants

Collaboration for Education & Elephants: Dr. Zachariah and Dr. Stremme

Vanessa Gagne

Asian Elephant Support is fortunate to be able to work with two very talented and dedicated veterinarians:  Dr. Christopher Stremme and Dr. Arun Zachariah.

Dr. Stremme teaches at the Veterinary College of Unisyah University in Banda Aceh, Sumatra-Indonesia and he invited Dr. Zachariah to visit the University from September 23-25, 2016.  Dr. Zachariah is a senior veterinary officer with the Kerala Department of Forests and Wildlife, as well as an assistant Professor for wildlife studies at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences Universsity, Pookode, India.  He is also a leading scientist on EEHV in wild and captive elephants in Asia and specializes in wildlife disease ecology and genetics.

The first day included meetings and informal discussions between Dr. Zachariah, the Dean of the Veterinary College, several professors, and lecturers. They discussed EEHV and several other wildlife diseases, their potential impact, and their importance for endangered species conservation.  In addition, Dr.  Zachariah visited the College’s laboratory facilities and gave advice on how it could be utilized for different wildlife disease studies.

On the second day, Dr. Zachariah conducted a seminar on wild Asian elephant and tiger diseases.  The topics included:

  • Wildlife disease ecology and their conservation impact
  • Current and emerging diseases in wild Asian elephants and tigers
  • Post mortem procedures in Asian elephants and tigers

The seminar was attended by a total of 67 participants including veterinary students, Veterinary College lecturers, professors, and BKSDA (Nature Conservation Agency- Indonesia) veterinarians.

AES strongly believes in collaboration between individuals and facilities dedicated to helping elephants!  Being able to help fund the work of veterinarians such as Dr. Stremme and Dr. Zachariah is possible because of your support. Our thanks to you for helping to make such efforts possible!

Dr. Aung Myint Htun - Asian Elephant Workshop in Thailand

Vanessa Gagne

This past summer we were happy to help Dr. Htun participate in the Asian Elephant Health, Reproduction and Breeding Management Workshop in Thailand.  The workshop was divided into three portions: one week online, one week examinations, and lastly, one week hands-on practicals in Thailand.  Dr. Htun was able to learn about foot care in addition to ultrasound checks for pregnant elephant cows.  


Human-Elephant Conflict in Asia

Vanessa Gagne

Recently Asian Elephant Support collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ Asian Elephant Conservation Fund to produce a document titled “Human-Elephant Conflict in Asia”.

Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a complex interaction between humans and elephants, and represents the detrimental impact both species have on each other. For the purpose of this document, the use of the term ‘HEC’ implies the detrimental impact that elephants have on humans. This takes the form of crop raiding and property damage, and also involves manslaughter and injury to people. The most common negative interaction between human and elephants in this context is crop raiding. Consequently crop raiding is the most referred to aspect when HEC is mentioned in the document.

HEC has been identified as a major threat to elephant conservation by all Asian elephant range countries; they all experience HEC and loss of human life due to elephants. Elephant deaths due to retaliatory killing by people have been reported by most range countries. HEC adversely affects the people who live in and around elephant habitat. It also adversely affects elephants and undermines efforts to conserve the species. The greatest danger HEC poses to elephants is the antagonism it generates among local communities towards elephant conservation. If elephant conservation is to succeed in Asia, then HEC will have to be resolved, or the conflict minimized to the point where it becomes tolerable to local communities.

There are two main constraints in planning and implementing HEC mitigation; one is the absence of a problem analysis guide that helps people work through the complexities of HEC to determine the multiple levels at which different types of interventions are needed. Second is the absence of a comprehensive information source on the different methods (interventions) available for conflict mitigation and how they need to be implemented. Additionally, in the absence of such a document, gaps in our collective conservation knowledge cannot be determined.

The goal of this project was to review existing HEC mitigation efforts in all 13 Asian elephant range countries by reviewing documents, research papers, and meeting reports about HEC, synthesizing the information, and preparing a comprehensive guide that identifies the best approaches and methods to mitigating HEC and acts as the basis for planning and implementing HEC mitigation efforts. This document also effectively channels research to cover gaps in knowledge on HEC and its mitigation across Asia.

The document can be downloaded here:

Paper on Tuberculosis (Myobacteria tuberculosis) in Elephants

Vanessa Gagne

Our advisor, Ellen Wiedner DVM, edited a paper called Recommendations for the Diagnosis, Treatment and Management of Tuberculosis in Elephants in Human Care.  It has been found that while TB can pass from human to elephant and vice versa, it is only through contact after working closely together for a long period of time.  According to the paper transmission has occurred for as long as humans and Asian elephants have worked together; for thousands of years.  The initiative to compose this paper and compile its findings was brought upon by the USDA so that people working with elephants could have easier access to information on how to deal with tuberculosis in their elephants.  You may read the full publication here:

Elephant Health and Management in Asia

Vanessa Gagne

This past year in 2014 one of our advisors, Heidi Riddle, co-authored a paper about the importance of identifying health issues in Asian elephants as seen by their veterinarians.  It is important to understand how difficult it is to find data on captive Asian elephant management throughout their range countries.  That being said the authors of this paper delved into what could potentially help both mahouts and their elephants receive the best care.  When both mahout and elephant are able to access medical care, that is a mahout is healthy and can provide for his charge, both individuals will thrive.  Finding solutions to this little known problem will certainly allow for a future with elephants to flourish.  Follow the link below to read the paper:

AES helps to further a veterinarian's education

Chris Reifschneider

Mr. Pham Van Thinh, a veterinarian from the Daklak Elephant Conservation Center in Vietnam, attended the "Asian Elephant Health, Reproduction and Breeding Management" course, which took place in Sri Lanka this summer. This training course was conducted by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine & Animal Science of the University of Peradeniya, in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College of the University of London, UK, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Chiang Mai University, Thailand, and the National Elephant Institute in Lampang, Thailand. The partner institutes were the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), Sri Lanka, Department of National Zoological Gardens (DNZG), Sri Lanka, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, USA.

The course focused on the management, nutrition, health, reproduction and breeding of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) with additional discussions on local and regional conservation issues. It had two components: a stand-alone distance learning (online-based) course of 6 weeks duration (12th May – 10th June 2014) that participants completed from their home countries; and a hands-on practical training course of one-week (7th – 11th July 2014) that was conducted on-site in Sri Lanka. The on-site training was conducted at the University of Peradeniya, Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, Elephant Transit Home and Uda-Walawe National Park.

The course was attended by 22 participants from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. Asian Elephant Support was proud to sponsor Dr Van Tinh Pham from Vietnam, who works at the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in the central highland province of Dak Lak. The ECC aims to protect both wild and domestic elephants in the Dak Lak province, where elephant population numbers are critically low.

The central highlands region is Vietnam's primary elephant habitat. The Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre reported that the central highlands region had around 502 captive and more than 550 wild elephants in 1980, but all that are remain now are 49 captive elephants and five herds of wild elephants numbering 60-70 individuals. Shrinking forests, illegal poaching, shortage of food, improper breeding techniques, and overworking have been the cause of deaths of both captive and wild elephants. Experts estimate that the captive elephant population will disappear in 20-30 years if they do not reproduce. According to the Dak Lak ECC, the reproduction rate of captive elephants over the past 30 years has been only 0.6 % per year, and the rate has dropped even further now because of limited opportunity to breed. To boost the captive population there is now an emphasis on reproduction, which was a primary focus in the training course attended by Dr Van Tinh Pham.