Our lovely Duenphen is currently suffering from an abscess on her cheek. It's an issue many of our older elephants have, often as result of their treatment as working elephant.
The abscess is under control, however does need regular cleaning and checking to ensure it's not getting more infected. So twice a week, she takes a walk from her enclosure to the hospital within WFFT’s designated elephant treatment area. She is very well behaved, and it’s always good for her to have a little bit more exercise.
Other than Duenphen’s abcess, all of our other elephants at the sanctuary are doing really well. They love their regular swims, especially See Puak who is something of a water baby.
New Enclosure Update
Khan Kluey is the only bull at the WFFT sanctuary, and at just 10 years old, is also the baby of the bunch. However he already weighs in at two and a half tonnes (2500kg). With that kind of weight behind him, this beautiful boy can cause some serious damage, irrelevant of his intentions. He is growing bigger and stronger every day – and there’s still plenty of room for growth, as Asian male elephants can grow up to 21 feet long, 10 feet high and can weigh as much as 5 tonnes (5000kg). The bull also is a solitary animal, and as Khan Kluey matures he will become more aggressive, more unpredictable and even dangerous as he goes through something known as musth.
Musth is a periodic condition in bull (male) elephants, characterized by highly aggressive behaviour and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. An elephant’s testosterone levels during musth can be upto 60 times higher than at other times. Whether this hormonal surge is the sole cause of musth or merely a contributing factor is unknown; scientific investigation is problematic because even the most placid elephants become highly violent toward humans and other elephants during musth, requiring segregation and isolation until they recover.
At present Khan Kluey is living in an enclosure with his adopted mother Somboon, but we need to be pro-active and find a solution as this will become a very real issue, not just for Khan Kluey, but for a number of other troubled elephants that WFFT are hoping to rescue.
At present there are no facilities in Thailand that can care for adolescent male elephants in this position, and locals currently adopt the following methods:
a) Keeping the animals chained up by all 4 legs to ensure that they cannot move and therefore not cause danger to themselves or others, or
b) Putting them through the “phajaan” (breaking of their spirit)
The team at WFFT has fought too hard to get Khan Kluay and the other elephants out of their hellish lives, and would never adopt these cruel methods.
So what other options are there? Releasing them back into the wild? This is difficult, as areas in which elephants would naturally reside are few and far between due to building development, therefore they would be fighting with humans for space, natural resources and food. Plus their fear of humans could spell danger for male elephants, not only from poachers (for their tusks) but also from the humans living close by who could shoot or electrocute the elephants for coming too close to ‘their’ homes.
The next option is euthanasia, and of course there is absolutely NO WAY that we would even consider putting a completely healthy animal down, let alone one that is on the endangered species list.
There is one option left to ensure the safety and healthy development of Khan Kluey and the other male elephants the WFFT team are working to rescue: a new enclosure, one that is large enough for them to thrive and live their lives with some semblance of normality. A secure enclosure that will resemble their natural habitat, give them space to roam and forage and give them much needed distance from human interaction. A place that will allow them to cool off in natural pools, stand in the shade of trees, forage to their hearts’ content yet still be safe from poachers and other human threats.
WFFT has meticulously designed a very large enclosure of approximately 50,000 square metres (7 hectares) on a large piece of forest bordering the WFFT rescue centre.
WFFT are well on their way to making this a reality, however in order to put safe fencing around the land, dig bigger ponds for the elephants to swim and build provisions like shade huts and feeding platters, they still need an additional USD$40,000, so any fundraising, donations and sponsorships are very gratefully received. If you want to know more about how you can help, contact the Animal Aid Abroad team and we will tell you more about the WFFT Elephant Project.