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MOTALA
The Thai Elephant
JodysJungle.com
1999 to 2011

Motala and Soraida 2006

I would like to thank Soraida Salwala, Director
Friends of the Asian Elephant/FAE
For the many years of pictures and updates of Motala beginning in 1999.

Soraida Salwala Founder FAE

There are many pictures of Motala on this page which may make it slow to load,
please be patient..Thank you
jj

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5/11/2011
The Prosthetic Foundation at FAE to measure Motala
for her third prosthetic leg.

 


Somchai measures Motala

~

A ten year journey for Soraida and Motala
A ten year journey for Soraida and Motala
~

Please Take a Moment to Light a Candle for Motala
Light A Candle

Contact Information for all FAE communications: (8/19/2010)
Friends of the Asian Elephant
Lampang Branch Office
FAE's Elephant Hospital
295 Moo 6 Lampang-Chiangmai Road (K.M. 28-29)
Viengtan, Hangchatr District, Lampang 52190, Thailand
Tel. 66-(0)-81-914-6113
Fax : 66-(0)-54-247-870



Soraida and Motala 10/26/10

Motala Resting...May 5, 2010
Beautiful elephant, beautiful home.
Thank you Soraida

Motala resting

Motala's Newest Prosthetic Leg
Feb. 2011

Motala's Newest Prosthetic Leg 2.2011

A Very Happy Motala!
Fe. 2011

FAE Update 4/7/2010
Motala
The Prostheses Foundation has beautified Motala's prosthetic leg.
Motala seen here is happily walking and dusting sand.
Soraida Salwala

motalasleg   motaladusts

FAE Update: 3/12/10
Motala's new prosthetic leg.

Motala

FAE Update Jan. 2, 2010
New Year Present for Motala from the Prostheses Foundation

Motala

Motala   Motala

FAE Update 12/25/09 Motala

Motala FAE 12/25/09

FAE Update 12.15.09
The Prostheses Foundation will be at FAE to adjust prosthetic legs of Motala and Mosha today.
Motala and Mosha will have new prosthetic legs as New Years presents.

FAE Update 12.12.09

 

FAE Update 12/06/09
Motala's Leg must be put on every morning

Motala's morning ritual

Motala Update FAE/Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital
1st Dec 2009
Motala with the prosthetic leg

Motala

Motala Update 11.06.09
Motala's prosthetic leg is adjusted, lowering the height to 2 cm
The Prostheses team checks on Motala and watches her when she walks. When she puts weight on it, it needs certain adjustments.
Soraida

 

Motala Walks Video

Motala update 10.06.09

  My Two Favorite Ladies..jj

 

FAE 10/01/09 Motala Update
The Prostheses Foundation Team will be here to try the prosthetic legs on Mosha and Motala today at ten.
Shall send photos.
Soraida

FAE Update 9/30/09
Motala sits in her shelter in the afternoon.
The workers are trying to speed the construction since the storm is likely to hit the north of Thailand.
My fear of Tanthong's ailing conditions rises so we need to get Baby Mosha down to be near Motala to get acquainted to as fast as we can.
However, we could not walk Mosha down as yet, the ground is too slippery.
Motala knows Mosha will be at the new shelter because everyone keeps telling her that but where is Mosha, Motala must be wondering.
"She'll be here next to you soon, dear!"
I believe she is impatient so she walks to inspect how SOON it is going to be!

Motala sits and waits

Motala inspects the Infirmary Unit 7 being built for Baby Mosha and refuses to leave but wants to go inside,
supposedly for a thorough inspection!

Motala inspects Mosha's Infirmiry Unit

Motala's Prosthetic Leg 9.23.09
Before Motala took a step out this afternoon after the leg was put on, the leg screws loosened and the prosthetic leg and the joint fell apart.
Motala is not hurt and we have to wait until the Prostheses Foundation could come and fix it.

 

Motala Update 9/09/09
Asso. Prof. Therdchai, Motala and the team

 

Motala Update 9/6/2009
Dr. Therdchai visited Motala to check on how she sits, stands and lies down for a perfect momentum.

 

 

~

Friends of the Asian Elephant/FAE Update

Prosthetic Foundation Repairs Motala's Prosthetic Leg
Aug. 22, 2009

Motala's damaged prosthetic leg

Motala, Thai elephant damages newly fitted artificial limb
Thursday, August 20, 2009
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)
An elephant fitted with an artificial limb 10 years after stepping on a land mine has had a minor setback, damaging the device attached to her left front leg.
Soraida Salwala of the private group Friends of the Asian Elephant said Thursday that 48-year-old Motola bent the prothesis when she lay down on it.
Motola, who weighs three tons, was fitted with the custom-made device Sunday at the Elephant Hospital in Lampang, northern Thailand.
Soraida said the device was removed for repair by its makers, the Prostheses Foundation, which also produces artificial limbs for human amputees. It will be reattached on Saturday.
In 1999, Motola underwent amputation surgery after her left front foot was shredded by a land mine blast near a logging camp along the Myanmar-Thai border.

 

   

~~~~~

Motala's damaged artificial leg has been repaired
Aug. 22, 2009

Motala's Prosthetic Has Been Repaired..
Aug. 22, 2009

Motala’s first Prosthetic leg was dented in three places when she lay down to rest on the ground.
The Protheses Foundation made a quick repair to it and Motala is contented even though she has not put her whole weight down yet.
Other elephants are the same and we hope they will recover soon especially Baby Namfon.
Soraida

Motala enjoying a day out.
Aug. 18, 2009

Motala enjoying a day out, Aug. 18, 2009

Motala walking for the second time today.

Motala walks for the second time

Motala walks on her first prosthetic leg!
August 16, 2009

Motala walks on her new prosthetic leg..8/16/09

Motala's prosthetic leg has just been scheduled to 15-16 August, 2009. Ten years from her tragic accident

FAE Updates 2009

LAMPANG, Thailand
Thai Elephant Hurt by Mine Gets Artificial Leg
By APICHART WEERAWONG, Associated Press Writer – Aug. 15, 2009
Motola, a female elephant who stepped on a land mine 10 years ago and endured painful operations, was fitted Saturday in Thailand for a permanent artificial leg.
The 48-year-old pachyderm became a symbol of the plight of today's elephants, and her injury sparked international sympathy and donations.
Experts were making a cast of her injured left front leg for a plastic prosthetic limb which will be attached later Saturday.
"I do hope she will accept the new leg. It would be wonderful to see Motola and Baby Mosha walking together side-by-side," said Soraida Salwala,
secretary general of the Friends of the Asian Elephant, a non-governmental group.
Mosha, also a land mine victim, became the world's first elephant with an artificial leg, attached in 2007.
Soraida said Mosha, now a 3-year-old, is faring well and has outgrown three of her prosthetic devices.

Motala's prosthetic leg has been scheduled to 15-16 August, 2009
ten years after her tragic accident.

The Eyes of Thailand Updates
and Friends of the Asian Elephant

Motala and Mosha
Motala will receive first prosthetic leg 10 years after stepping on a landmine
Tomorrow (August 13, 2009)
I head to FAE in Lampang to begin filming the preparations for the prosthesis fittings this weekend.
August 15th, 2009
Today was one of those days I am reminded why I am a documentary filmmaker.
I arrived at FAE a little before 9am and Mosha’s 3rd prosthetic fitting was already underway
P.S. I will be filming in Thailand until August 24, 2009.
If you’d like to make a tax-deductible contribution to help fund the production,
please click here to donate through the film’s fiscal sponsor, The San Francisco Film Society.
Thank you!
Please stay tuned for more updates!
Sincerely,
Windy Borman
Producer, Writer, Director, The Eyes of Thailand

Motala
August 1, 2009
Everyone is excited, we have to prepare the place for this big event.
Tents, equipments, tables for machine, electric fans, electricity should not go out during the process,
more soil to pave the ground so the container truck could be parked next to the Resting Unit to unload the heavy machines.
The baby infirmary next to Motala will be used for the doctors and technicians.
I had the constructor in yesterday to extend the roof at the infirmary. I shall send photos while the work is in progress.
Everything should be ready by next Sunday. It is breaking news here in Thailand.
I do not know if Motala will accept it but I am hopeful and pray a lot for the succcess.
I want to see her walk on four legs.
When I saw her trying to walk to Kamchan the other day, I thought "Oh dear, if only you had your lost leg!"
Soraida

MOTALA IS SCHEDULED FOR THE PROSTHETIC LEG
Date: 7/31/2009
MOTALA PROSTHETIC LEG IS DUE TO BE MADE ON 15th-16th AUGUST, 2009
Motala, the female elephant who stepped on a landmine across Thai border on 15th August, 1999 and has been treated, operated at FAE’s Elephant Hospital from the 18th August, 1999 and the operation on her right shattered leg on the 28th August, ten days after her arrival was successful. The artificial leg we had planned for her before the operation could not be made due to the problems of her wounds that healed rather slowly.
It has been ten years now but all these long years Motala enjoys a happy life and walks out of her shelter for a sun bath. We are very happy that the day Motala will be fitted with the prosthetic leg is two weeks away. Thanks to all concerned, individuals, well wishers and donors, contributors across the country and around the world who keep sending their concern for her. Thanks especially for the team of Asso. Prof. Therdchai Jivacate from the Prostheses Foundation who dedicate their time and efforts to make it possible for BABY MOSHA, AND NOW MOTALA.

THE DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE!
You are cordially invited to come and witness the process and please let everyone you know learn of this good news!
Thank you.
Miss Soraida Salwala
Founder & Secretary General
Friends of the Asian Elephant
Direct Mobile : 081-936-3500, 081-838-1356
For more Info please call:
Dr. Preecha Phuangkam : 081-936-3681
Director of FAE’s Elephant Hospital
295 Moo 6, Lampang-Chiangmai Road (k.m.28-29)
Viengtan, Hangchatr, Lampang 52190
Thailand

~

Dear Miss Jody:
Motala's prosthetic leg has just been scheduled to 15-16 August, 2009. Ten years from her tragic accident. I just cannot wait. This morning she tried to walk to Kamchan and I believe they were talking because both trunks were up and Motala wanted to walk to be as near her as much as she could.
Good news! Mosha's new infirmary will be next to Motala's. I have the plan since January now the money to build it is from our fixed account. We cannot wait any longer.
Thank you for these ten long years of support and hope and the encouragement you have given Motala and me and the staff.
Thanks and thanks and thanks.
Soraida

Motala tries to walk to Kamchan

Somchai tries to call Motala back

Motala Pictures from Soraida
Aug. 11, 2009

Motala Aug. 2009

Motala's afternoon stroll. Aug. 2009

Motala Aug. 2009

Motala outdoors. Aug. 2009

Motala Aug. 2009

Motala tents Aug. 2009

Motala View Aug. 2009

Everyone is excited, we have to prepare the place for this big event.
Tents, equipments, tables for machine, electric fans, electricity should not go out during the process,
more soil to pave the ground so the container truck could be parked next to the Resting Unit to unload the heavy machines.
The baby infirmary next to Motala will be used for the doctors and technicians. I had the constructor in yesterday to extend the roof at the infirmary. I shall send photos while the work is in progress. Everything should be ready by next Sunday. It is breaking news here in Thailand.
I do not know if Motala will accept it but I am hopeful and pray a lot for the succcess. I want to see her walk on four legs.
When I saw her trying to walk to Kamchan the other day, I thought "Oh dear, if only you had your lost leg!"
Soraida

Preparation for the working space for Motala's Prosthetic Leg. Aug. 4. 2008
Preparation for the working space for Motala's Prosthetic Leg

~

MOTALA IS SCHEDULED FOR THE PROSTHETIC LEG
Date: 7/31/2009
MOTALA PROSTHETIC LEG IS DUE TO BE MADE ON 15th-16th AUGUST, 2009
Motala, the female elephant who stepped on a landmine across Thai border on 15th August, 1999 and has been treated, operated at FAE’s Elephant Hospital from the 18th August, 1999 and the operation on her right shattered leg on the 28th August, ten days after her arrival was successful. The artificial leg we had planned for her before the operation could not be made due to the problems of her wounds that healed rather slowly.
It has been ten years now but all these long years Motala enjoys a happy life and walks out of her shelter for a sun bath. We are very happy that the day Motala will be fitted with the prosthetic leg is two weeks away. Thanks to all concerned, individuals, well wishers and donors, contributors across the country and around the world who keep sending their concern for her. Thanks especially for the team of Asso. Prof. Therdchai Jivacate from the Prostheses Foundation who dedicate their time and efforts to make it possible for BABY MOSHA, AND NOW MOTALA.

THE DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE!
You are cordially invited to come and witness the process and please let everyone you know learn of this good news!
Thank you.
Miss Soraida Salwala
Founder & Secretary General
Friends of the Asian Elephant
Direct Mobile : 081-936-3500, 081-838-1356
For more Info please call:
Dr. Preecha Phuangkam : 081-936-3681
Director of FAE’s Elephant Hospital
295 Moo 6, Lampang-Chiangmai Road (k.m.28-29)
Viengtan, Hangchatr, Lampang 52190
Thailand

~

Shy Motala meets FAE Board
2/16/2009

Shy Motala meets FAE Board
From left, Mr. Montri, Motala, Assoc. Prof. Sayam, Senator Varin.

Then, Motala recognizes her old friends and poses happily with them.

Motala and old friends

~Motala 2008~

Motala December 2008

The lovely Motala dusts herself
The lovely Motala dusts herself while waiting for Baby Mosha

~

"Baby Mosha was injured by a landmine when she was only seven months old back in 2006 has fully recovered. And Asso. Prof. Therdchai Jivagate, from the Prostheses Foundation will be at Friends of the Asian Elephant’s Hospital in Hangchatr, Lampang Province on Saturday the 21st of June, 2008 around 9.00 a.m. to proceed with the prosthetic leg for Baby Mosha who is now two years and seven months old. She has been prepared to put the artificial leg since February after she weaned off in December 2007, her mother had to go back to the owners while Mosha has been donated to FAE to take care of her for the rest of her life. Mosha has been walking on the pre-prosthetic leg since February and in good health and her spirit is high."
"The next plan is for Motala. I wish I could see them walking together. They have shared their plight and together they have shared being given love and care from so many people all these years. No word could ever express my appreciation on their behalf."
Soraida
19th July, 2007
Soraida Salwala, Founder
Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE)
The World's First Elephant Hospital

FAE September 24, 2008
Mosha and Motala Meet for the First Time!

Motala waits for Mosha


Mosha was shy at first

Mosha and Motala @ Friends of the Asian Elephant 2008

~

 
 

Motala Update 4/10/08

Kamprai and baby Zeno
Kamprai and baby Zeno

Dear Miss Jody:
Motala is doing just fine. Her daily strolls have been limited when the rains fall.
She has baby Zeno who was born in September last year in her nursery next to her.
And I believe they talk.
Soraida

~

News from Friends of the Asian Elephant
Motala 8/25/07
Dear Miss Jody:
On Tuesday 28th August, 2007 will mark the 8th anniversary of the success of Motala's operation. Associate Prof. Therdchai Jivacate from the Prostheses Foundation will be present to visit Motala and have a meeting with me and Dr. Preecha. The conclusion will be released to the reporters after our meeting around 2.30 p.m.
We have some photos and info (in Thai) on www.elephant-soraida.com
It would be very kind of you to please let FAE's supporters know. Thank you so much.
Soraida

(August, 2009) for all communications,
please contact:
Friends of the Asian Elephant
Lampang Branch Office
FAE's Elephant Hospital
295 Moo 6 Lampang-Chiangmai Road (K.M. 28-29),
Viengtan, Hangchatr District, Lampang 52190, Thailand
Tel. 66-(0)-81-914-6113
Fax : 66-(0)54-247-870


e-mail fae@elephant-soraida.com
web site www.elephant-soraida.com
motala@jodysjungle.com (page is slow to load)
F.A.E. updates@jodysjungle.com

~

News from Friends of the Asian Elephant, F.A.E
Dear Miss Jody:
Our Elephant Hospital was hit by a hail storm on the 14th April, 2006. Fortunate enough that no elephant nor staff was hurt but there are damages. Trees fell over the roofs and debris were everywhere. Motala's Infirmary was hit by the hails and the roof was broken but she is all right. No harm to her except over 30 pieces of the roof tiles were broken.

Hailstorm

Motala

~

Motala, August 2005, wearing her pre-prosthetic.

August, 2005
Motala Update:
PRE-PROSTHETHIC LEG HAS BEEN FITTED TO MOTALA SINCE SUNDAY 14 AUGUST, 2005.
MOTALA IS AT EASE AND DOES NOT SHOW SIGN OF DISCOMFORT.
IT IS FITTED FOR TWO HOURS DAILY UNTIL FURTHER DECISION.
MOTALA'S 6TH ANNIVERSARY: 28 AUGUST, 2005

Why is Motala chained?
"The reason we chain elephants are the same as we chain dogs. Motala and other elephants are no exception. They roam around and hurt themselves or hurt by cars, trucks and others. Motala loves to stroll out. During this daily stroll we do not chain her but the mahout has to keep watch on her or else she would walk over to the ravine and might hurt herself. Hope this could help answer the questions. My best regards, Soraida"

~

Soraida & Motala

Motala

Motala   7/8/2005

Motala July 2005

Dear Ms. Jody
Motala is somehow doing so well. She gained weight and we have to control her diet, she is not pleased though because she eats a lot and feels she wants to eat more. It is in the rainy season here in Thailand and it rains a lot in the north where we are but the sun also shines so brightly before the storm. Motala loves to have her morning sun bath and it is her daily excercise. It is the best time of the day for her to come out and sits and just lies down. It is simply her pleasure. When she has enough sun bath she walks back to her enclosure freely and the mahout will then give her shower. She seldom lies down to rest in the enclosure these days, may be because of the insects that come with the rain. But we encourage her to rest her legs. The Doctor has made a soft post for her to rest her injured leg on and it took a while before she accepted it. We plan for the prosthesis but it depends on Motala if she would accept it. That is why we are trying to make her familiar with the soft sock stuffed with a little weight (soft sand), we shall put it on her injured leg so she will get used to having something on that leg.
My warmest regards,
Soraida

~

Motala's Fifth Anniversary
Dear Friends:
FAE held a ceremony 'BAI-SRI-SU-KWAN' on Saturday 28th August, 2004, to mark the fifth anniversary of Motala's successful operation. It has been long years of efforts for all concerned to give Motala a better life. She is courageous and never fails to cooperate. On behalf of Motala and Friends of the Asian Elephant we wish to say thank you to all of you who have cared so much and have supported us all these times.
My sincere regards.
For the elephants,
Soraida Salwala
Founder & Secretary General

~

Soraida & Motala 2004

Motala 2004

July 2004,
"The amputated front left foot is healing. The prosthesis would be moulded and tried on Motala after the wound has healed completely, if she feels it hurts then we will not fit it on her.
She walks all right and enjoys being outside her enclosure, strolling slowly, bathing in the morning sun or mid afternoon and dusts herself."

2004

 

Motala Update June 29, 2004
Dear Jody:
I am with Motala, she is doing great and she has a new friend, KRAMPRAI, who is expecting a baby soon.

(Saturday September 18 2004
(Kramprai gave birth to a male calf.)

I believe the two like each other as they seem to be very friendly. Kramprai is housed next to Motala. Motala is kept in her shelter because it rains a lot these days. However, she can move around eating grass and bananas. She loves her morning snacks of horse pellets. She would lie down often to rest on the soft sand bed we make for her. There is no bed sores on her body. The amputated left foot is closing. It is another three inches with the skin and tissues growing. Apart from her new friend Kramprai, Motala enjoys the company of baby Noel who is housed next to her shelter during the day time. Noel was born in December last year (2003) from his mother Thongkwao. Noel loves to reach his trunk out as if to reach Aunty Motala and Motala would move nearer to Noel. Then they would splash water in the bucket happily.
They are so happy here and I try to make them happy as best I could. I talk to Motala many times a day, give her a hug every now and then. She loves to have me around and when I am not here, she seems unhappy and refuses to eat, so the mahout has to tell her every day that 'Mother is working and she misses you so much and you ought to eat to be healthy'. To every one's surprise, she will put her trunk up and start to eat again. I shall try to send her recent photos to you as soon as I can. Thank you so much for being there for all the animals and for being there for me too!
A big hug,
Soraida

~

Motala Update
2/10/2003
Motala has gained weight and eats horse pellets as supplement. We have planned to fit some soft wrap around [shoe] to get her used to wearing something on before the prosthesis [artficial foot] to be put. This only depends on Motala. She has good temperament and enjoys the visit of young children. She looked so happy two weeks ago when some 20 kinderkaten students visited her.
Best regards, Soraida

Thank you to "Friends of the Asian Elephant" for this photo of Motala..2002

Motala 2002 courtesy of F.A.E.

Motala

Update: 15th January 2002
Amputee Thai elephant to undergo more surgery
A Thai elephant maimed by a land mine two years ago will undergo surgery to accelerate the growth of skin on her amputated leg. Motola attracted worldwide attention in 1999 when bone specialists and surgeons saved her life by cutting away 12 inches of her front left foot. It had been shredded by a land mine in the jungle of neighbouring Myanmar. Prosthetic specialists teamed up with the vets to design and prepare an artificial foot for the 40 year-old logging elephant, who would have been the first known to use one. But the team has not been able to fit the prosthesis because there is still a seven centimetre open wound from the amputation, said Preecha Puangkham, chief veterinarian at the Hang Chat Elephant Hospital in northern Lampang province. "The healing has been too slow and we are worried because we have put off fitting the prosthesis again and again," Mr Preecha said. The veterinary team is now planning an operation to cut back flesh blocking the growth of skin that could cover the open wound, Preecha said. No date has been set for the operation but doctors will discuss it soon, he said. Motola is in high spirits and has adapted well to her handicap, hobbling around the hospital grounds about 320 miles north of Bangkok. She has gained weight since her operation and now weighs four tons, up from three tons at the time of her accident, he said. Locals have donated more than $100,000 (nearly 70000) to pay for Motala's treatment. Her plight also focused attention on Thailand's declining number of domesticated elephants, now estimated to total 2,500, down from as many as 100,000 at the start of the 20th century. Source: Ananova
Story filed: 15th January 2002

Motala

Wednesday 10 January 2001
An elephant that drew sympathy from around the world after being maimed by a landmine has now received death threats, it was revealed in Bangkok. Thais and some foreigners donated more than $230,000 to help Motala after she trod on a landmine. Thirty surgeons saved the elephant's life, but amputated much of her shredded foot.Sympathetic donations flooded in, more than were needed to care for the elephant. Now Soraida Salwala, founder of the world's first elephant hospital in Lampang, said groups jealous of Motala's celebrity and the donations had telephoned her saying they "want Motala dead". Three deadly king cobras were released recently near a path Motala uses daily. No king cobras had ever been sighted before on that path, said Ms Salwala. She said motorcyclists and cars had driven by her house late at night, the occupants sometimes shouting threats. A man in military uniform approached the veterinarian leading the team treating Motala, and warned him to stop working for the elephant charity Ms Salwala founded. Because of the threats, visitors to the hospital are no longer allowed in Motala's enclosure.

Motala's crutch

Ms Salwala is convinced elephant traders and Thai animal welfare organizations are behind the threats and menaces. Motala was injured working at an illegal logging camp near the Burma border. She was saved from death in the operation in which she was given enough anesthetic to floor 70 grown men. Veterinarians still hope to fit her with a prosthetic device. But for now, the 39-year-old elephant hobbles on three feet.
Source:The Age

Prayers For An Elephant
Thailand's latest land-mine victim stirs emotions
and renews concern over the plight of the pachyderms.
By Paul Handley
Newsweek International 1999

The world hardly needs more poster material for the plight of land-mine victims. But Motala is as innocent as they come. The 38-year-old Asian elephant stepped on a land mine deep in the war-torn jungle in southern Burma while rummaging for food on a break from her heavy workload. She was part of an ugly, illegal trade: her Thai mahout, or trainer and owner, had been hired by loggers to illegally harvest and haul the heavy trunks of valuable teak trees that grow in the jungle. The mahout, Somwang Arunwiriya, had heard of the Elephant Hospital in northern Thailand, and decided to try to recoup his loss: the elephant had cost $8,000 — four times the average annual income in Thailand — four years ago. For three days, he and Motala walked through thick, mountainous jungle across the Thai border, then hired a truck to carry them the rest of the way. The elephant's injured limb became badly infected. As Motala staggered into the hospital, onlookers wept. The animal was in such terrible pain that hospital workers swore they saw tears fall from Motala's eyes.

Motala's Tears

Motala's tale has swept Thailand with a wave of emotion. Until this century, elephants formed the backbone of Thailand's economy and Army, doing everything from hauling goods to carrying soldiers and kings into battle. The elephant is Thailand's revered national symbol. Following the accident, newspapers featured Motala on page one, with daily features on latest developments — what she had eaten, doctors' comments, debate over the role of the mahout. Concerned Thais donated nearly $110,000 to support an operation to save her leg. Thailand's leading veterinarians and orthopedic surgeons volunteered their expertise. As the crusade to save Motala grabbed the headlines, her sad story revived growing concerns about the plight of Thailand's beleaguered elephants.

Motala's foot xray. source: Time magazine

Technically, Motala's operation wasn't complicated. "When we operate on a human we do the same thing," says orthopedic surgeon Therdchai Jivacate, part of the team that operated on Motala. (Still, the doctors did have to feed her 20 liters of glucose and five bunches of bananas every day.) But how, exactly, do you operate on a 2.7-ton elephant? "You improvise," says another member of the operating team. To clean the wound before the operation began two weeks ago, doctors packed a jumbo-size black plastic trash bag with antiseptic-soaked cloths and strapped Motala's foot inside — cotton swabs just wouldn't do. An electricity plant loaned one of its heavy cranes for moving the patient. A giant sling and a cot were constructed from a firefighting hose. The Elephant Hospital's operating room was little more than a concrete floor in the forest, with a corrugated tin roof high overhead on poles. After deciding to lay the patient down instead of suspending her from the crane, doctors pumped her with the equivalent of 70 human-size doses of anesthesia.

The nation followed the operation's progress with bated breath. Motala came round several times during the three-hour operation; doctors kept pumping in more anesthetic. A day later, Thais rejoiced when doctors pronounced the operation a success. By last week Motala was well enough for the team of doctors to winch her onto her feet with the giant sling to ensure circulation to the rest of her limbs. "She seemed to understand that people were there to help her," one onlooker said.

Motala's plight is all too common. Several other elephants have also stepped on land mines across the border in Burma, where ethnic-minority armies are fighting against the Burmese regime. None, except Motala, made it to the Elephant Hospital. Not only land mines are threatening the elephants. A ban on logging in Thailand a decade ago has made it hard for the country's 3,000 domesticated elephants to find work. Many mahouts take their elephants to urban areas, where they offer rides and jungle treks to foreign tourists. Invisible on the road at night, the animals get hit by cars all too often. Others go deep into Burma or Laos for dangerous logging jobs, often on illegal operations. Soraida Salwala, director of the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation in Bangkok, is just as worried about physical and mental damage resulting from drug use. Veterinarians found evidence of drug-caused liver damage in Motala's blood. Somwang, her mahout, reportedly admitted that he fed her amphetamines. Many mahouts feed their elephants with speed to make them work harder at their logging jobs. "What can we do?" asks Soraida, whose foundation helped raise funds for the operation. "Someone has to take care of them."

Friends of the Asian Elephant

Soraida Salwala
E-mail soraida@elephant-soraida.com


Motala's Sling. Source: Bankok Post

While mahouts push their elephants to work ever harder, some experts are trying to reintroduce the surplus captive population into the wild. The World Wildlife Fund released several dozen into a northern Thailand wildlife sanctuary this year, hoping the elephants can learn to live on their own. But humans are moving in on the wild elephants' habitat. In southern Thailand last year, pineapple farmers set out poison to kill elephants that had strayed onto their fields — former forestland — in search of food. The government ordered the farmers to stop before any animals were killed, but the struggle over land continues.

The Thais will be watching as Motala gets fitted for what must be the world's largest prosthetic foot. Surgeon Therdchai, who heads the Prosthesis Foundation of Thailand, has helped fashion 2,000 artificial limbs for land-mine victims in his country over the past six years. "But it's the first time I've had to make anything this size," he says with a laugh. If Motala's wound heals well, in a few weeks Therdchai can start fitting a limb. The socket will be made of stiff plastic. He will make the footpad from replaceable treads from old car tires. "We have no idea if Motala will accept it or not," he says.

Pictures of Motala's Operation, 1999
Photo Source:
BBC Online Motala's Operation, 1999

Motala's wound  Motala's sling attached to crane

Motala Finally Under Anesthetic  Motala's Operation

Motala Asleep  Motala eats

~

The owner and Pung Motala lived in Tak. He was hired to work with Motala in Burma. The owner, mahout and Motala arrived Burma on August 14, 1999.

August 15, 1999
The mahout let Motala wander in the forest to feed herself. Then, the bomb exploded. The mahout found out later after Motala ran away that Motala’s left front leg was injured seriously. The owner then took Motala back to Thailand border by walking 10 km. for 3 days, arriving the Elephant Hospital on August 18.

The land mine caused Motala’s left front leg seriously injured, 15-20 cm. wounded depth. The leg had already infected and swollen. Motala had to use only her right leg.

August 21, 1999
Khun Soraida and Dr. Preecha Puangkam (DVM) had set up the committee to take care of Motala.

August 22, 1999
Khun Soraida sent the letter inviting Dr. Therdchai Jivacate, the secretary of Prostheses Foundation and Dr. Aram Pongchewboon, Chiangmai University to join the committee.

August 25, 1999
The veterinarian team from "Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation" together with the team from other institutions led by Dr.Preecha Puangkam (DVM) came for Motala’s treatment. After X-RAY, no fragment left in the foot. The committee then decided to amputate a 12 inches.

August 28, 1999
The staff moved Motala for surgery. A big operation bed was built the night before. Then the anesthetic was given. When Motala laid down, the surgery team led by Dr. Therdchai Jivacate dresses the wound and amputated the injured foot. It took 3 hours for the surgery using enough anesthetic to floor down 70 people (recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records 2000).

Surgery Procedure
Amputation of the injured front Left Foot
Taking Care of the Wound (Front Left Foot)
Taking Care of the Wound (Right Foot)

Motala was donated to the foundation after staying at the hospital for 8 days on August 26, 1999.
The Foundation is indebted to all private and government sectors that contributed their support.

Friends of the Asian Elephant
Friends of the Asian Elephant  Websites
English   en.elephant-soraida.com

Thai   elephant-soraida.com

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@ JodysJungle.com

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Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE)
Office of the National Culture Commission granted on the date
of October 19th, 1993
Registered Charity No. Kor-tor 273 (18th April, 1994)
Member of the NGOs for Environmental Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources No. 9/2535
(Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources)
Friends of the Asian Elephant is certified as a Public Benefit Organization,
Registration no. 0476 dated 18th November 2005
from National Social Welfare Promotion Commission, Ministry of Social Development
and Human Security in accordance with the Social Welfare Promotion Act, 2003 section 34.
Member of Asian Conservation Alliance (ACA)

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