Sunday, October 28, 2007

Epidemic might have killed six elephants, says veterinarian

The Nation
October 27, 2007

The skeletons of the six elephants found on Thursday in Chanthaburi indicated that the animals might have died in great pain, a veterinarian said yesterday.

Pattarapon Maneeon said chemical poisoning might not be the only possibility and an epidemic could have killed them. The carcasses of the six cows, aged 15 to 40, were decomposed but vets managed to retrieve some flesh, bones, abdomen fat, grass from their stomachs and maggots.

The jumbos were dead for two months so traces of disease or chemicals might have disintegrated and disappeared, Pattarapon said. He will contact the Medical Science Depart-ment, National Institute of Animal Health and veterinary faculties at universities to see if they can help with testing.

Chalermsak Wanichsombat, director-general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, said he would ask for assistance from labs at Kasetsart and Mahidol universities. He believes the elephants probably died from an epidemic, not chemicals, but wants scientific results to confirm the cause.

Pattarapon said it appeared that the jumbos did not perish instantly and might have suffered a lot, as they appeared to have been struggling. Villagers had also spoken of hearing elephants crying in agony.

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