Mosha, the elephant wounded by a land mine, gets her new prosthetic leg

Mosha lost her leg in a land mine accident ten years ago. She has now received her new prosthetic limb thanks to a hospital in Lampang, Thailand.

Mosha was only 7 months old when she was maimed. She stepped on a land mine on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. More than ten years have passed from that.

This week, she received her new prosthetic leg (the ninth) thanks to the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, an hospital in northern Thailand.

Mosha ha ricevuto la sua gamba artificiale.
Mosha with her new prosthetic leg

Along with Mosha, other 15 elephants have been wounded by land mines in neighbouring regions, which are stage to dreadful wars and conflicts. However, she was the first one to receive a prosthetic limb thanks to a Lampang hospital.

Mosha weighed 600kg when the accident occurred. Now, she weighs nearly 2 tonnes and, by growing up, vets had to adapt their prosthetic leg or create new ones.

Another elephant, Motala, lost her leg in a land mine accident in the same region in 1999. She is 50 years old and was featured in The Eyes of Thailand, a 2012 documentary that tells how  it was possible to give her a new artificial limb.

Many professionals took part in the operation, including orthopaedic Therdchai Jivacate, who said that elephants that don’t receive prosthetic legs are destined to die.

When Mosha received her new prothesis Jivacate told Reuters: “The way she walked was unbalanced, and her spine was going to bend. That means she would have hurt her cartilages badly and eventually stopped walking. And she would have died because of that.”

Elephant numbers in Thailand

The Thai Elephant Conservation Center estimates that 2,000 to 3,000 elephants live in the wild in Thailand, along with other 2,700 domesticated individuals.

The resources and particular care for Mosha and other elephants shouldn’t be cause for surprise. The relationship between Thailand and elephants dates back to many centuries ago. These animals were employed to carry out heavy works, to transport people and tree trunks during deforestation operations. Their training is a result of an ancient tradition and the profession of trainer (mahout) is handed down from a generation to another. Most of all, elephants are traditionally loved, respected and celebrated during festivals and annual events.

Land mine numbers

About 64,000 land mine accidents have occurred in the border regions of Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia since 1979. According to Halo, international organisation dedicated to remove land mines, these areas are home to about 25,000 people who have been maimed by land mines, one of the world’s highest rates of amputations per capita.

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