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Caring for your elephant - a handbook

mardi 21 février 2006

The Thai government in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) plan to publish a handbook on how to take care of your elephant, the state-run Thai News Agency (TNA) says.

The guide will initially be published in Thai and English. It aims at instructing mahoots - elephant minders - and zoos how to better diagnose pachyderm diseases and quickly seek appropriate veterinarian treatment for problems such as stomach aches.

The project, a joint effort of Thailand’s Forest Industry Organization and the FAO, was financially supported by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said one of the authors Preecha Phouangkam, advisor to the National Elephant Institute.

Authors of the handbook include Preecha, Thai veterinarian Taweepok Ankawanit and Richard Lair, an American national who co-founded the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.

The dual-language handbook includes an elephant health records section which lists elephant-specialist veterinarians and telephone numbers.

"Using the handbook, the mahouts or elephant park managers can take care of the elephants appropriately and immediately contact elephant-specialist veterinarians in case of health problems," Preecha told TNA.

There are approximately 2,500 domesticated elephants in Thailand, where they are classified as draught animals because of their former use in the logging industry.

Logging was banned in 1988 and since then many elephants have suffered neglect and unemployment, leading to poor treatment and new jobs in the tourism industry and, too often, as beggars in the cities.

The FAO plans to publish editions of the handbook in seven languages and distribute them to countries that have elephants

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