Friday, December 16, 2011

Visiting Sambos night home in Phnom Penh

Sambo and Sin Sorn
February 2011: (All pictures on this page were taken by Mariam Arthur)
By googling, I found some articles about Sambo on Internet, and a Facebook page called Support Sombo, and the same evening I wrote an mail to administrator of the page, Mariam Arthur, an american journalist living in Phnom Penh:
I saw the elephant a couple of days ago, and also feel engaged. Accutely, she seem to need footcare, her nails are growing too long, since they are inside shoes. She is still at Wat Phnom, and obviously standing on the hard stones all day,trying to release the pressure on the feet, by lifting them rytmically. This is not the same thing as when an elephant is performing a stereotypical behaviour, its probably directly linked to physical problems, which are also obvious when she walks, she has major problems just taking the step from pavement to the street.
I will spend some more time, here, if you wish to contact me.

Mariam replied next day, and gave me her elephone number, and we had lunch the following day, and went to see Sambo at the temple afterwards.

Mariam also took me to the grass field beside the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh, where Sambo stays at night, after a 4 km walking on the streets. I was in fact surprised that she had such a large area to spend her night, where she obviously could walk around free, because according to Sin Sorn, she was not chained there, but could move freely the whole night.

Here her shoes are removed every evening, and I could now ask Sin Sorn to move her around, so I can see how she walked on a natural substrate, without shoes. Unfortunately she moved slowly, and was standing on one frontfeet, relasing the pressure on the other one.

The shoes were intersting, but also a product of the fact that she was standing the whole days on a wrong substrate, the stones at the temple.

And if she wouldnt wear the shoes, her nails would have not been so extremely overgrown.

There was also a worrying detail, dirt that looked like pus on the inside of the shoes, which meant that there could be something wrong with her soles.

I now asked Sin Sorn if we could try to lift her feet, so I could look under them, but Sambo did not cooperate, and appeared to be very much afraid of letting anyone see or touch her feet.

 But she was lying down a couple of seconds, not really long enough for me to be able to take a close look. It was clear that she was poorly trained for this examination, which many elephants in Asia are.

I could at least take a close look at nails, which apart from being very long, had vertical cracks and also openings between the lamellas, and were in a very bad condition. We discussed with Sin Sorn, but it was clear that his english was not on the level so we could discuss foot care, instead it was decided that I got the email to his son, who speaks english. Sin Sorn also started to look unpatient.

With some frustration I accepted that not more could be done, and started to think about a light sedation, so the elephant could be properly examined. Was there any Vet in Phnom Penh, who had Xylazine (Rompune)?

And yes, there was, when I visited Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary outside Phnom Penh acouple of days later and was trying to speak with the mahouts about their elephants, they gave me a telephone number to Mr Nhim Thy, veterinarian for forest department and Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary.

After I visited Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, I met up with Mr Thy at Wat Phnom, and we had a look at Sambo together, but not much came out. And it was time for me to leave Phnom Penh, and see Jack Highwoods elephant sanctuary Elephant Valley in Mondulkiri. And after that I left to Laos.

Later, I mailed Sin Sorn´s son and gve links to my website, where I very basically, explains foot care and trimming of elephant feet,as well as a couple of examples of solving elephant nail and foot problems.

(All pictures on this page were taken by Mariam Arthur)

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