CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thai veterinarians say a 22-year-old elephant was wounded after he wandered into neighbouring Myanmar and stepped on a land mine.
Soraida Salwala of the Friends of the Asian Elephant conservation group in northern Thailand says the pachyderm’s left foot was severely hurt in Sunday’s blast in Myanmar’s Kayin state.
Salwala said on Tuesday that the elephant named Pa Hae Po was taken to the group’s hospital in the Thai town of Lampang by truck and is expected to recover.
The elephant is the 14th such casualty to be treated at the hospital since it began operating in 1993. He joins three other elephant land mine victims who remain hospitalised at the facility.
Rights groups say both the Myanmar army and rebels have laid mines during decades of conflict
Soraida Salwala opened the World’s First Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang, Thailand in 1993 to treat elephants that are ill or injured as a result of work, abuse or neglect. To date, she and her staff have treated over 3,000 elephants for everything from eye infections to knife wounds, gunshot wounds, broken bones, drug addictions and building prosthetic limbs for the survivors of landmine accidents.
Since then, the Asian Elephant population in Thailand declined from 40,000 to less than 2,600 left in captivity. Not only are Asian Elephants endangered, the remaining elephants are overworked, abused, exported to zoos around the world, or disfigured by stepping on forgotten landmines along the Thai borders.