Saturday, May 26 2018

VietNamNews

Elephant struggle to stay healthy

Update: March, 04/2018 - 09:00
Đàng Đăng Long feeds an elephant. VNS Photo Giang Vương
Viet Nam News

In days gone by, when elephants became ill they went into the forests to find herbs that would make them better.

Now, there are far fewer forests.

Sometimes, elephants today are not as healthy as they once were long ago.

However, when they are ill it is often because they have been made to work too hard or carry loads that are too heavy.

By Giang Vương

In Lắk Commune in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk, elephant doctor Đàng Đăng Long is fighting a desperate battle to not only keep overworked beasts alive, but to provide the right conditions for them to mate so that they do not die out. 

We visited the doctor as he was about to leave for a trip to Cambodia to treat an elephant. “I have only 30 minutes. I’m in a hurry,” Long said.

For the giant beasts that have become ill, 30 minutes can save their lives.

“I’m actually a normal herbal doctor and hold no secrets,” he said. “I have many years of experience caring for my herd of elephants and I have drawn some experience in treating them. I inherited knowledge from my father as well.

“In the past, when elephants were sick, they were often released back into the forest. The sick elephants would seek leaves and herbs to treat themselves. But now forests have been largely destroyed; there are few medicinal plants left,” Long added.

Long said elephants were big animals that were generally in good health. Most of their diseases are caused by working too hard and carrying loads that are far too big.

“In recent years, elephants tend to have more tumours in their bodies. The tumours stem from polluted food and water, which leads to lack of nutrition and resistance in their bodies,” he added.

Long often uses the bark of lộc vừng (fish poison tree or barringtonia), and leaves of trâm (Jamblon or syzygium cumini) and some salt boiled to rinse off the injured areas. After sterilising the injury, Long uses soil taken from the nest of termites or fermented rice to cover the open injury.

“Both substances have antibiotic functions and kill parasites and work very well for elephants with tumours,” Long said.

Few months ago, a 40-year-old elephant was brought to him with a rather long open injury on his back. The festering wound was infected with parasites making a nest inside.

“I sterilised the wound, covered it with herbal medicine for nearly a month until it dried and healed,” he said. “That elephant was a little old. Younger ones recover more quickly, just 10 days.”

Although he treats elephants using traditional techniques, Long said when performing surgery, all tools must be sterilised.

“After the operation, it is difficult to stitch an injury because of the thick skin. I often l herbs and pills in the injuries and wipe away insects,” he said.

Long is also known as a good match maker for elephants, although few couples can give birth to babies.

 

According to Long and other elephant raisers in the region, elephants can only mate and conceive in their natural environment.

However, at present there are few natural forests. Elephants have lost their relevant space for mating and giving birth.

“Many elephant couples I match seem to love each other and they mate, but none conceive,” he said.

During mating season, male elephants always have a strong desire but few females accept the males.

Long recalled an incident three years ago, when he matched a couple. They loved each other but broke up at the final stage.

“When they were about to make love, they discovered some tourists filming them,” he said, “They were extremely angry; they chased the tourists and damaged the surrounding fields.”

While Long has inherited priceless herbal techniques to treat elephants, he admitted that what was also needed was a well-educated team of veterinary doctors,” he said, “I just cure in emergency cases.”

There are no centres or sanctuaries specialising in the treatment of elephants.

“At the Đắk Lắk Elephant Preservation Centre, there are more than 10 staff members, but not one of them has had special training. They just work based on their long-term experience in keeping elephants,” he said.

Elephants owners can get VNĐ400 million (US$17,800) from local authorities for a new-born baby elephant.

“Đôn Village used to have many elephants, but not all can give birth to a baby,” he said, “Only two to three out of every 10 elephants can.”

According to Nguyễn Đức Trưởng from Đôn Village Tourism Centre, elephants are on the decline because not only do they lack proper space for mating but also most are of a high age.

“Each mating season, the owners have to take male elephants to the forest so that they cannot damage surrounding fields or houses,” he said.

Y Linh, elder head of the village, used to remind his villagers to create an open space with lots of wild trees for elephants to mate.

“We need to take great care of elephants,” he said, when we met him a few years ago, “Don’t cut off their tusks, their tail hair and don’t force them to entertain tourists too much so that they have time and the mood to mate.” — VNS


 

GLOSSARY

“I’m actually a normal herbal doctor and hold no secrets,” he said.

A herbal doctor is one who works with herbs rather than with scientific medicine.

 “I inherited knowledge from my father as well.”

To inherit something means to have received it from someone who has died.

“The sick elephants would seek leaves and herbs to treat themselves.”

To seek leaves means to look for leaves.

“In recent years, elephants tend to have more tumours in their bodies.”

Tumours are unhealthy growths in or on the body.

“The tumours stem from polluted food and water, which leads to lack of nutrition and resistance in their bodies,” he added.

Stem” from means “come from” or originate from.

Nutrition is the substance in food that makes the body grow and keeps it healthy.

Resistance in the body is what it has in it to fight off diseases.

After sterilising the injury, Long uses soil taken from the nest of termites or fermented rice to cover the open injury.

To sterilise an injury means to make it so clean that germs on it are killed.

Termites are ants.

Fermented rice is rice that has been left to rot a little bit with yeasts.

“Both substances have antibiotic functions and kill parasites and work very well for elephants with tumours,” Long said.

Antibiotics are substances that fight diseases in the body.

A parasite is something that lives off another living thing and causes it harm while doing so.

The festering wound was infected with parasites making a nest inside.

A festering wound is one that is open and possibly on its way to becoming worse.

Infected means full of things that will make it become worse.

“Younger ones recover more quickly, just 10 days.”

Recover means “get better” after an illness or an injury.

Although he treats elephants using traditional techniques, Long said when performing surgery, all tools must be sterilised.

Techniques are methods.

Surgery is medical treatment that involves using tools and instruments on the body.

According to Long and other elephant raisers in the region, elephants can only mate and conceive in their natural environment.

Living things conceive when male and female “seeds” come together after mating to start a pregnancy.

Elephants have lost their relevant space for mating and giving birth.

Relevant space means space that has a special purpose.

During mating season, male elephants always have a strong desire but few females accept the males.

A desire is a will.

Long recalled an incident three years ago, when he matched a couple.

To match a couple means to introduce two individuals to one another who will come together and form a couple.

While Long has inherited priceless herbal techniques to treat elephants, he admitted that what was also needed was a well-educated team of veterinary doctors,” he said, “I just cure in emergency cases.”

Veterinary means to do with animal medicine.

According to Nguyễn Đức Trưởng from Đôn Village Tourism Centre, elephants are on the decline because not only do they lack proper space for mating but also most are of a high age.

If elephants are on the decline there are fewer and fewer of them as time goes on.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Đàng Đăng Long is a doctor who treats elephants with herbs.
  2. Đàng Đăng Long sometimes works in countries other than Việt Nam.
  3. Elephants breed very easily, no matter where they are.
  4. All the elephants in Đôn Village produce lots of calves.
  5. Polluted water can make elephants sick.

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. True; 2. True; 3. False; 4. False; 5. True.

 

 

Send Us Your Comments:

See also: