A 48-year-old Thai elephant named Motola has been fitted with a new artificial leg at a specialist elephant hospital in Lampang, northern Thailand.
On August 15, 1999, Motola was working at a logging camp in the remote Thai-Burmese border area when she stepped on a land-mine. With her front left foot badly damaged by the explosion, she had to be taken to the elephant hospital which is run by a non-governmental organization known as the Friends of the Asian Elephant. Sadly, the damage to Motola’s foot was so severe that there was no alternative to amputation. Motola was fitted with a temporary artificial leg made from canvas. Now, 10 years to the day from that original injury, the Thai elephant has been given a specially designed permanent artificial leg. The new leg has been made by the Prostheses Foundation, a charity project under Royal patronage that normally makes artificial limbs for amputees unable to afford advanced health care.
Another elephant at the hospital, 3-year-old Mosha, was also a victim of a land-mine. In 2007, Mosha became the first elephant in the world to receive a specially designed artificial leg. Her progress has been good and the youngster has already outgrown three of her prosthetic devices.
Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE)
The FAE group was founded by Soraida Solwala in 1993 and a year later the FAE established the world’s first elephant hospital in Lampang, northern Thailand. The hospital is open to visitors and is located in the Mae Yao National Reserve approximately 250 metres off the Chiang Mai-Lampang highway between the 28-29 km marker posts. A small road leads to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre on the left, but the FAE Hospital is on the road that leads to the right.
If you are intending to visit, please read the information given on the Friends of the Asian Elephant website. Khun Soraida points out that they are not affiliated with the Elephant Conservation Centre and that the FAE has previously been targeted by some ill-intentioned individuals.