International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Congress Logo 33rd World Vegetarian Congress
Chiang Mai, Thailand, January 4 - 10, 1999
'Vegetarianism is the Way'
an unforgettable visual, cultural and gastronomic experience

The Elephant Hospital

A talk given by Miss Soraida Salwala

Elephants hit by car, tetanus infected, wounded from gunshots by poachers or suffering from other diseases appear to be a normal subject of which a few take notice. But the question is, "Are we prepared to encounter the extinction of these creatures?"

Clearly, Thailand's wild and domesticated elephants are declining at steady rate; although some of the causes are apparent; destruction of forests; lack of traditional employment, lack of income for owners, poaching of elephants for ivories, catching the baby elephants for sale ( by killing their mothers) and also lack of veterinary care.

Despite the official closing of monopolized logging, illegal loggers are still at their trade. The elephants that are used in this illegal logging trade are overworked. Some suffer from broken legs, or broken backbones and some are addicted to amphetamines given to them so they can work harder.

The Elephant Hospital has been constructed by Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) in Hangchart Ditrict, Lampnag Province. With the permission from the state enterprise, FIO (Forest Industry Organization) attached to Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives, FAE has built the world's first Elephant Hospital. It is situated between K.M. No. 28-29 Lampang-Changmai Road.

The construction has accomplished 2 infirmary units (One has a medical storeroom and working space) 1 resting unit, etc. The work began in early May 1994. It was late but the funding was very small and we had to wait. The complete project comprises 10 individual units to be able to accommodate 10 sick elephants a t a time, and additional medical facilities (of which are very costly). The hospital also provides an operating theatre for those elephants bound to undergo a surgery. Taking into consideration the enormous size of the mammals, hydraulic facilities and fully equipped units are essential. The construction has cost approximately 8 million baht. But there is a lot more to do.

With the help and assistance from all concerned, it will certainly serve to encourage "Friends of the Asian Elephant" to push on, even though the elephant's problems seem almost impossible for a small group as ours to handle. We are in earnest to minimize the losses of the elephants, to lessen their pains and to look after them with mercy and care when they are neglected. We desperately need your support.

Miss Soraida Salwala

Foundress and Secretary General for Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) which has been established in 1993. She is also the Advisor to the Kanchanaburi Eco-Tourism Cooperative Company and the Project for the Conserved Forest and Sea of the East. She is now a life member to The 999 Wildlife Trust (WTF). Her own profession is executive secretary to many firms.