Mahouts trained to look after elephants

PHUKET: The Provincial Livestock Department today held a training seminar for mahouts from Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, in which they were taught the basics of elephant health. About 50 mahouts attended the seminar at the Royal Paradise Hotel in Patong. A similar seminar last year attracted about 300 mahouts. Suwut Chalayjorn, Director of the Veterinary Service Division, explained, “The aim of this seminar is to give mahouts basic knowledge about the most common illnesses in elephants. The idea is that when their elephant gets sick they will notice the signs and be able to give it basic treatment before calling for the vet.” K. Suwut added, “The most common health problems for elephants are stress, bacterial infections and injuries from accidents with cars or motorcycles. “The reason is that the lifestyle of elephants has changed from living in the forest to living in town. They have a hard time adapting to the new environment.” There are about 2,300 working elephants in the country, most of them in tourism provinces such as Chon Buri, Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Chiang Mai and Kanchanaburi. In Phuket there are 22 camps containing 174 elephants, all of which have now had identifying microchips implanted. In addition, there are 21 elephants in Phang Nga and 49 in Krabi. Dr Wiraparp Termkietpaisan, a vet from the Phuket Provincial Livestock Office, said, “We finished implanting microchips in the the middle of last month. No more elephants will be allowed into Phuket.” It was also announced at the seminar that the National Livestock Department is to launch a campaign to upgrade the standards of elephant camps around the country. The department will require camps to adhere to rules such as hiring a full-time veterinarian or, in the case of smaller camps, a part-time vet; providing a shaded area for the animals, having fences to keep tourists and elephants apart; and ensuring that shows are safe for both the elephants and the tourists. Once a camp believes it meets the requirements, it will be inspected. If it comes up to standard, then it will receive support from the Livestock Department and from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which will help promote it.

Phuket News
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