Sixty-five working elephants participated in this year's Elephant Festival held in Sayaboury and as usual the ElefantAsia team were on hand to offer veterinary care and treatment for these animals.
Working from the NGO's mobile veterinary unit and as such within the capabilities and limits of the equipment and resources carried by the vehicle, treatment can at times frustratingly fall short of the elephants needs. However with the opening of the Laos' first elephant hospital at the Elephant Conservation Center located in Sayaboury province, this lack of proper treatment and care facilities for pachyderms is now a thing of the past.
Receiving its first two patients post festival, the ElefantAsia veterinary team based at the Center have diligently started to care for tuskers Phu Thongkhoun and Phu Thongkham.
The festival's Elephant of the Year 2012, 46 year old Phu Thongkhoun was hospitalised for three days receiving treatment for an abscess on his back. Every day local disinfectant and pain relief was administered, whilst the wound treated through curettage.
Also aged 46, logging elephant Phu Thongkham arrived at the hospital requiring treatment to an infected cornea and severed tail. With the infection commencing several months ago through a suspected foreign located in the eye, the team set about tranquilising the elephant to complete a full investigation of the animals right eye, no foreign body was found. Full vision in the elephant's eye may not be restored, however a topic and general treatment was administered three times a day to control the infection, ease the pain and assist with the healing of the cornea.
From top to tail, Phu Thongkham had also suffered a severed tail at the beginning of February this happening whilst working in the logging industry. On first inspection at the festival, the ElefantAsia team found the wound to be awfully infected and purulent (containing bacteria forming pus). The wound was cleaned, antiseptic administered and bandaged daily, whilst antibiotics and pain relief given to control the infection and ease the elephants pain.
Phu Thongkhoun has now made a full recovery and has travelled home to again commence work in the logging trade. Phu Thongkham's progress is a little slower due to extent of his injuries; he will stay at the hospital up to 2 weeks more. The infected eye is now open and his vision returning, there is still pus present, but the discharge has now ceased. Treatment is slow and difficult, but the infection is lessening. His tail is also healing very nicely.