Ye’ Aung the elephant was in trouble. He hadn’t eaten for three days and his physical condition was deteriorating quickly. Usually capable of carrying heavy loads for miles across the jungles of Myanmar, he was quickly losing strength and was struggling to swallow food or water. Without intervention, the 15-year-old elephant would soon die of starvation in the hot and humid climate.
For elephants like Ye’ Aung, life threatening illnesses or injuries can be devastating for both animal and owner alike. In the dense forests of the interior, it is difficult for veterinarians to access the most remote of communities and many animals die before they can get the care they so desperately need. For working elephant owners here, their very livelihoods are intrinsically tied to the welfare of their animals.
Ye’ Aung’s owner, Thurein, didn’t know how to help his suffering animal but knew where he could turn – he called SPANA vets, who drove their 4×4 several hours through the forest to assist the sick elephant.
SPANA vet Dr Zaw examined the weak elephant, checking his temperature and vital signs before examining his mouth and throat. Suspecting an oesophageal blockage, the team used a speculum to examine Ye’ Aung’s throat. The vets did their best to keep the examination quick and as non-invasive as possible.
The vets’ suspicions were confirmed when they found a very hard, large mass blocking Ye’ Aung’s throat. The team carefully removed the lump and were shocked to find that the animal had been suffering with a 1.6 kg mass of compacted sugarcane and rice lodged in his throat.
They suspected that Ye’ Aung had eaten too quickly at the end of a long day of work and because of this and a lack of water, the mass had gotten stuck.
Once the mass had been removed, the relief was almost instantaneous and Ye’ Aung began drinking and eating immediately. To replenish lost water and electrolytes, the team administered fluids every five hours and kept a close eye on the recovering elephant. Within a matter of days, the elephant was back to normal energy levels and strong enough to return to work.
Thurein was visibly relieved, saying:
‘Ye’ Aung is my livelihood. I don’t know what I would do if he couldn’t work. Thank you so much SPANA.’
Thanks to SPANA’s regular mobile clinic visits to this region of Myanmar, elephants like Ye’ Aung can live longer, healthier lives, free from suffering. These clinics provide free health check-ups, vaccinations and emergency care and are a lifeline in this otherwise inaccessible region.