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Thai Elephant Fitted With Prosthetic Leg

Thai Elephant Fitted With Prosthetic Leg

A Thai Elephant who stepped on a landmine and lost her leg is slowly regaining her mobility after being fitted with a prosthetic leg.

Two years ago, the leg of a seven month-old cow elephant was tragically blown off when she stepped on a landmine along the Thai-Burmese border in the Tak province of Thailand.

Thai Elephant Mosa Fitted With Prosthetic Leg

Now, with the help of the Elephant Hospital at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center and a 15-member medical team from the Prostheses Foundation of Thailand, Mosa is finding her feet again thanks to her new prosthetic leg.

Mosa stepped on the landmine which severed her right forefoot in 2006. The team at the Elephant Hospital spent six months tending to the injury but as the wound healed, there was constant concern about Mosa’s loss of balance due to the amputation of the blasted leg.

The team noticed that the bones in her left leg began to deform because of the increased weight bearing down on the leg, Mosa’s back also became mal-aligned.

It was then that the team decided to fit Mosa with a prosthetic leg to prevent further deformity and restore her balance.

Dr Therdchai Cheevaket, chief doctor of the Prosthesis Foundation, has been developing prosthetic legs for handicapped people for over 60 years and was one of those that took part in the development of Mosa’s prosthesis.

After four months of hard work the prosthetic leg was unveiled on June 21st.

Hailing Mosa’s leg as a Thai innovation that involved brand new molding techniques, Dr. Therdchai said,

“It’s the first time that we have successfully deigned and developed a prosthetic leg for an elephant.”

Mosa’s success has given hope for the organizations that care for elephants that have been disfigured by landmines.

Next in line for a leg prosthesis is 47-year-old Motala, another cow elephant who drew widespread public sympathy after her left front foot was blown off nine years ago in the Karen state.

Motala’s left leg was amputated but due to her old age and weight, her leg would not heal properly and till this day, the tissue around Motala’s damaged leg still needs regular treatment.

A mold is now being made for Motala’s leg and she has already been fitted with a temporary prosthesis made from canvas and sawdust, to help her leg get strong enough for a more permanent leg.

Thai Elephant Motala Fitted With Prosthetic Leg

It was Motala’s ordeal that first drew public attention to the dangers of landmines which are not restricted to humans. The public quickly responded donating a total of four million baht ($121,360) to help the Elephant Hospital and the Asian Elephant Foundation develop new techniques and methods to aid the injured elephants.

An increasing number of elephants are used to haul logs along the border areas and the lure of high pay for delivering these logs has exposed many elephants to this life-threatening danger.

Preecha Puangkham, veterinarian and director of the medical section at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang’s Hang Char district said,

“Over the past five years, more and more elephants have been wounded by landmines.”

Since the opening of the hospital in 1993, the team has provided treatment for 2,825 elephants. Currently there are 447 elephants admitted to the in-patient ward with 20 of those needing special attention. The elephants in the out-patient ward also amount to nearly 400.

These numbers reflect the constant danger the lag hauling elephants face however, it is not just land mines that the Elephant Hospital are worried about, many of these elephants are also mistreated. A recent report claimed that some mahouts have admitted to mixing methamphetamines with bananas driving the elephants to work longer hours.


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