Saturday, December 17, 2011

What can be done for the elephant Sambo in Phnom Penh?

Of course noone wants Sambo to suffer anymore, including her owner, Sin Sorn in Phnom Penh.

What can be done for Sambo?
-I guess Sin Sorn just wants her bad feet to heal, so he can work her at the temple Wat Phnom again. Im sure he doesnt WANT her to suffer.
-Some people would suggest she must come to a place where she can walk on sand and grass, under green trees.
-Some animal welfare people, with good hearts but limited knowledge in elephants, surely would like her to come to sanctuary, where the management based on "love" and elephants are claimed not to be worked with hooks.
-Some people would say she needs social life with other elephants.
-Ands some would may say that it would be better to put an and of her pain by euthanasia.
-I  personally think she must come to place where her medical needs are priority one, a place that can act like an elephant hospital.

It has to be remembered, that Sambo was away from other elephants for many years. Such elephants gets closer bounds to humans, and doesnt always get long with other elephants, they become like kids that doesnt want to share their environment and food with other elephants. They also get unused to fit in herd, accepting that they may not be the leader. When mixed with other elephants, in her poor weakened condition, could mean death for her, if done wrong. One single attack from another elephant, could make her fall down, and damage her joints so bad, that she may not rise again. Therefore, any social contact with other elephants must follow a competent careful introducation programme, with very obedient elephants, that can be controlled, so a fight can be avoided. At the moment, I think her social needs of other elephants is secondary to her medical needs.

This elephant is in desperate need of medical care and threatment. This could never be performed effectively with "love elephants philosphy" or abstract ideas on alternative training. A good medical treatment can ONLY be performed with traditional methods, including dominance and use of elephant hook. Im pretty sure though, that when in good hands, with good mahouts, the use of hook could be reduced to a minimum. In her situation, being used to her owner and her nephew for many years, its also important that good mahouts could spend a lot of time time looking after her, so she would feel cared for. Only after some time, when she has confidence in new care takers, could she eventually be introduced to other elephants. But she will probably always be dependant on free contact with an elephant keeper that also gives her support.

Green grass, and soft sand is surely not bad for an elephant.

But she already has that during the nights, and she hardly walks and move around. Most of the time shes just standing under a tree, seeking shadow from the sun. When she walks, its so slow, as if she would be a 60 year old elephant, close to death.With one frontlegs stiff from arthritis and other problems which makes it difficault for her to bend it, she moves a s less as possible.
I doubt she lay down in the night for sleep. many elephants with legs problems sleep in standing position, because they afraid of the problems of getting up.

Standing on grass is surely much better than standing on stones at the temple Wat Phnom, but I dont think its enough for her. It doesnt cure her feet, its just softer to walk on.

And even on grass, she constantly release the body weight pressure on her right foot, by keeping it up in the air.

This probabaly reduces some pain, but at the same time, it actually damage the other foot more, since that foot must single support her front body weight.

I want to stress, that she can not be viewed only as an elephant, shes a vicitm of so many pathological issues, that shes in need of intensive medical care.

And her feet are in such a bad condition, that they have to be priority over general management issues.

She is in acute needs of something like an elephant hospital, where she would be treated as a patient, by medically competent people.

Only later, IF and when she gets better, general views of a location with  blue skies, white clouds, green grass and shading trees could be of value.

She needs to come to a place which:
  • Is not under supervision by her present owner, since he would probably start to work her commercially, after any minor sign of recovery.  
  • Is not to far away from her, because she is weak, and Im not sure how she could deal with a long transport.
  • Is preferably an institution that is supervised scientifically.
  • Has sufficiant man power recources, including good mahouts and veterinarians.
  • Has good housing, including sun protection and where hygiene is good.
  • Has possibilities to separate elephants from each other, preferably without chains.
  • Has boxes, where she could stay during the nights in clean areas.
  • Has a rather flat enclosure where she could walk free during days now and then, without that she needs to climb over objects, or have risks risks of falling, because of sloaps.
  • Has previous experience of rehabilitation of elephants with pathology issues.
  • Has a good reputation, so supporters/public would feel assured abouth the correct use of their money, in case of fundings.
I think she need something like a hospital environment, that was developed in Thailand for elephants, which was victims of exploding land mines.

In March, I visited the elephant hospital in Lampang, Thailand, and met he resonsible vetrinarian there, Dr Preecha Pongkuam, who I had not seen since 1988, when I visited the Thai Forest Industry Organisation young elephant training center in Ngao, Lampang.

Together with Friends of the Asian elephant, founded by Mrs Soraida Salwala, Dr Preecha Pongkaum and his collegues developed methods of taking care of elephants with severe wounds, of which hardly any Zoo in Europe or America would dream of trying to cure.

And as you see, we are not speaking grass and sand, blue skies and bananas hanging from trees.
The priority is hygiene, as fast and effective cure of infections as possible, and reduce of pain as much as possible.

A foot that has been hit by a land mine is not very beatiful.

This elephant was happy, his leg has not been amputated.

Still, the foot is in great need of a flooring substrate that is easy to keep clean, is soft to stand on, while still giving support to the weight of the elephant, and that can reduce bacterial growth. And the medical treatment, and curing, is the priority number one.

To make this possible, is in the hands of her owner Sin Sorn. He earned many dollars from her during the years, and now its time to take the responsibilty for her medical problems, and her pain.

He is a rich man, owning many elephants.

The wise thing for him to do, is to cooperate with people who want to help his elephant. By such a decision, people would honor and thank him, and then he would also give evidence to his statement that he loves Sambo.

The present way of showing it, by the extreme abuse, is not thrust worthy.

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