Elephant treatment programme still facing challenges

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An Elephant gets medical free treatment from mobile elephant clinic team. Photo: Supplied

The elephant treatment programme, which was started to provide free treatment through mobile elephant clinics (MECs) to elephants owned by the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE), private enterprises and wildlife elephants since 2016, is still facing many challenges.
The MTE is providing free treatment through two MECs to over 3,000 elephants owned by it and other wildlife elephants, and providing treatment through one MEC to elephants owned by private enterprises. The mobile elephant clinic team includes 20 veterinary surgeons and 32 elephant veterinary training students. The team is providing services such as vaccinations, deworming, removing of old abscess and surgeries, treatments, and footcare management processes.
“One of the big challenges for the team is looking for private elephant owners. Next, the team lacks experienced veterinary surgeons. We also need sustainable funding for the mobile elephant clinics. We have only one vehicle for private enterprise elephants. In this case, when we are providing treatment in the southern part of Myanmar, we cannot go to the northern part of Myanmar if there is an emergency case,” said MTE elephant veterinary professor U Zaw Min Oo.
Moreover, the MTE set up a free elephant hospital in 2014 at 13 miles entry from Oakdwin- Pauk Khaung road. However, most of the private enterprise elephant owners do not access the treatment, said U Moe Myint, Deputy General Manger of MTE.
“The private elephant owners do not want their elephants to be treated at the elephant hospital. They also do not want our team conducting a medical check-up on their elephant, as they are only concerned with their business. We provide medicine and doctors free of charge,” he added.
Most elephants are suffering from heterosis and abscess disease. Some elephants die of weakness after being afflicted with parasites. An elephant aged below 12 years died after contracting the herpes virus.
The MTE is providing treatment with mobile elephant clinics, in cooperation with SPANA. The MTE is also conducting other elephant conservation programmes, in cooperation with the international elephant foundation, the University of Sheffield, Four Paws and EAI. It is also conducting a case-by-case study, in cooperation with the Asian Elephant Foundation, Smithsonian, Asian Elephant Support and the World Wildlife Fund. In the 2016-2017 financial year, the MTE officially suspended its logging operations. As for Bago Yoma, the timber extraction was suspended for a 10-year period because Bago Yoma has experienced the worst deforestation in Myanmar. The enterprise has so far opened 18 elephant camps across the country with some 205 elephants.
The MTE is planning to develop elephant conservation-based tourism in time for the September tourist season, in cooperation with tour agencies.
There are over 6,500 elephants in Myanmar, including 3,078 belonging to the MTE.


By May Thet Hnin


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