Monday September 25, 2023

Foreign veterinary team arrives for treatment of elephants

By Our Correspondent
August 16, 2022

Veterinarians from a global animal welfare organisation, Four Paws, have arrived in Karachi for medical treatment of four female African elephants owned by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.

Two of the animals have been kept at the Karachi Zoological Garden and the other two at the Safari Park. The international team of vets would carry out dental treatment and medical evaluation of the elephants at the zoo on Tuesday. Four Paws Director Dr Amir Khalil said that root canal procedure would be performed on the elephants in the zoo — 17-year old Noor Jehan and 16-year Madhubala — and such a method of treating an elephant’s dental issues had never been used before.

For the root canal procedure, the vets are bringing specially-designed, large-sized excavators, drills, endodontic burs and other dental instruments. The tusk infection in both the animals is stated to have reached an alarming stage, due to which they are in constant pain.

“Our specialised veterinarians will use an innovative treatment that is much less invasive than the traditional approach,” he said, adding that the traditional surgery would only be possible under risky anaesthesia and would result in long post-surgery treatment with a higher risk of complications. He said that they were planning to do the surgery under a ‘standing’ sedation.

For the unique treatment, the veterinary team has developed special equipment. The surgery would be performed by two specialised veterinarians from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research from Berlin — Prof Thomas Hildebrandt and Dr Frank Göritz — who are part of the Four PAWS team led by Dr Khalil.

In the medical procedure, the team would remove the dead tissue, clean the root canal, and teach the local team how to conduct regular post-treatment flushing to prevent inflammation and sustain hygiene of the wounds. This method, Dr Khalil said, had been used to treat other animals like horses but never on an elephant before.

“The cost for treatment is covered by FOUR PAWS, thanks to donations from our supporters all around the world,” he said. In May 2022, the Sindh High Court had allowed two identical petitions by PAWS, a local organisation for welfare and well-being of animals, and a citizen, Owais Awan, calling for medical care of the elephants.

Four Paws’ vets had earlier visited the animals in the last week of November 2021 and after collecting blood samples and tests, submitted a number of recommendations to the SHC regarding better enabling environment, food, medical care and training of the animals.