Contributing to Asian Elephant research to help save young elephants
At Elephant Hills, elephant welfare is our top priority. We have an onsite veterinarian at our elephant camp and a dedicated team of mahouts ensuring that the elephants’ healthcare, nutrition, physical exercise and rest, living areas and opportunities for socializing and enrichments are of the highest standards. The natural, safe, and peaceful camp location surrounded by rainforest covered mountains and plenty of space to roam provide an ideal living environment for our beloved pachyderms.
We contribute to Asian Elephant research, run our own Elephant Conservation Project, take part in trainings, seminars, arrange workshops and consult the country’s best elephant vets and other professionals to learn more about this fascinating species and the latest welfare updates. We are glad to announce that this latest contribution from our company is to help Chiang Mai University in cooperation with Utrecht University in the Netherlands to develop an EEHV (Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus) test kit and vaccine.
Located in the Chiang Mai University Veterinary Faculty, the Center of Excellence in Elephant Research and Education has been for years doing vital research on Asian Elephants. The team is relentlessly coming up with science-based solutions and techniques for better elephant husbandry and healthcare. By knowing more about elephants’ anatomy, diseases, behavior, and stress levels we can improve the welfare and ensure the species’ survival.
EEHV causes fatal disease in Asian Elephant calves
Over the past couple of decades the Thai elephant owners have been devastated by the increase in cases of EEHV, a herpes virus that can be found in African and Asian Elephants, both in wild and captive populations. In most adult elephants, especially in African elephants it’s mostly dormant. In young African elephants it may reactivate occasionally causing mild symptoms. In Asian Elephants on the other hand, it causes highly fatal disease particularly in young individuals.
Dozens of Thai elephant calves are being lost each year, as in many cases the death occurs within 24 hours of the onset of an infection. Antiviral medicine is only partially effective, very expensive and must be given at a very early stage to have an effect. Young Asian Elephants are most prone for a severe attack at the age of 0-12 years, and the mortality rate in severely affected individuals is over 80%.
New initiative working on developing a test kit and a vaccine
The skilled elephant veterinarians from Chiang Mai University and the government run elephant hospitals have been teaching mahouts and elephant camp managers all over Thailand to notice even the smallest symptoms. Increasing early detection, stocking up antiviral medicine, and alerting a veterinarian immediately can save elephant lives.
Since many Asian Elephants are carriers of the herpes virus, simply testing if an elephant has the virus, isn’t a solution. With the virus manifesting so quickly upon starting of the symptoms, there is no time for laboratory testing to determine whether the virus has activated. Up until now the early detection and immediate medication has been able to save some calves, but we are hopeful that the new research will have groundbreaking results.
This project, initiated by Chiang Mai University’s Center of Excellence in Elephant Research and Education and Utrecht University in the Netherlands aims to develop a test kit for easy detection and eventually a vaccine to protect young elephants from this fatal virus. We at Elephant Hills are proud to be able to contribute to this incredible initiative and are looking forward to sharing any updates and developments with our Elephant-loving friends and followers!
Our Elephant Conservation Project is actively looking for companies to partner up with in corporate sponsorship because together we can make a huge impact to the well-being of Thailand’s elephants. We can facilitate a donation to one of the elephant hospitals, help you to contribute to elephant research, or conduct a project to aid wild elephants in one of the local Wildlife Sanctuaries or National Parks.
If you or your company would be interested in joining hands with Elephant Hills Elephant Conservation Project, please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information at [email protected].