|You would have seen an image of the highly regarded elephant veterinarian, Dr. Christopher Stremme, in our blog dated November 20, 2015 which took place in the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) in northern Thailand where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar come together. In one of the photographs, you may even recall his signature braces or suspenders which you will see again. About 100 miles north of there and abutting Myanmar and Laos is the vast Mengyang Nature Reserve in Xishuangbanna, China which is home to one of the last wild elephant populations in China with some 100 wild elephants. Connected to the reserve is the Wild Elephant Valley which is an eco-tourism site with an elephant rescue and breeding center.
The GTAEF recently sponsored a visit by Dr. Stremme to review the facilities and give various elephant care presentations. As you might guess, the porous borders between these countries and the remoteness of the area enable elephants to move across borders given whatever motivation they may have. We know what aspires the bull elephants to seek greener pastures but sometimes elephants just move for whatever reason suits them. As you would suspect, the Chinese people worship their "Chinese" elephants but, nonetheless, offer proper care to those from further afield.
Another interesting aspect of the elephant reserve is that Xishuangbanna is located in the semi-autonomous Dai region of China where the ethnic minority Dai people maintain a strong connection to Buddhism, hence the elephant connection. In fact, there is a massive Buddhist temple there in honor of Queen Mengle, a pious Buddhist during the 14th century.
In any event, the results of Dr. Stremme's evaluation are quite interesting and it is likely his work with Wild Elephant Valley will continue into the future based upon the support of the GTAEF.
There is a major component of rescue and rehabilitation in the sanctuary efforts. An orphaned calf is being raised on goat milk.
An adult female elephant is being examined by Dr. Stremme as he was told that it and and a younger bull elephant came over from Myanmar with drug addictions. A drug lord was said to have fed them opiates to calm them so they could be ornamental pets in his village.
An adult bull is being treated after a fight with another male.
With the exception of the unruly bulls, all elephants at the rescue center are taken to the forest together in order to graze and have free social interaction.
The local veterinarians were starved for the information that Dr. Stremme provided through his lectures as one of the leading experts in their field.
He performed sonograms on the pregnant females which are certainly more intimate than those taken of humans.
Have you ever seen a sonogram of an elephant about four months old?
So what does all of this mean going forward? First of all, it is most reassuring to see an emergence of an elephant sanctuary in China as well as a recognition of these wonderful animals. Apart from the immediate impact on those elephants in China and needy ones from their neighbors, the greatest good could be an overall educational impact on the insatiable demand the Chinese have for ivory which is decimating the African elephant population. Recognizing the spiritual significance of elephants can diminish the charm and appeal of carved ivory and save elephants located a long way from China. Your support of The Elephant Story is directed to the GTAEF.
In recognition of the Chinese awareness of elephant conservation, The Elephant Story has designed a T-shirt reflecting the Chinese character for elephant "Xiang" which is pronounced similarly to the Thai word "Chang" and Lao word "Xang." Do you think these people originally all came from the same place?