ECI’s role is focused on building the capacity of Myanmar’s elephant veterinarians through workshops and one-on-one training. The first workshop “Professional Strategies to Improve Asian Elephant Management in Myanmar” was held in November 2012. During this field visit Dr. Mikota helped set up a small laboratory at one of the remote elephant camps and donated a freezer to store serum.
In 2014 we conducted health assessments of white elephants in Yangon, zoo elephants in Nay Pyi Taw, and government-owned elephants residing at several logging camps.
As an instructor in the “Capacity Building for Zoo and MTE Veterinarians” Workshop held at the Nay Pyi Taw Zoological Gardens during March 2015, Dr. Mikota gave four presentations focused on topics to enhance the ability of zoo and elephant veterinarians to better understand clinical pathology and its application to the diagnosis and treatment of medical problems. She also led a laboratory session on urinalysis. Her other scheduled lab sessions were kindly led by Dr. Tint Naing after Dr. Mikota fell ill with the flu! Working internationally does have its hazards.
Dr. Mikota returned to Myanmar in October 2015 for an additional 14 weeks of field work. This trip began with Dr. Mikota presenting at the Asian Society of Conservation Medicine meeting in Yangon. Visits were made to the Nat Pauk tourist camp to continue TB surveillance and to the nursing camp to check mothers and babies (always a delight!).
A highlight of the trip was the opportunity to spend several weeks traveling with Dr. Win Htut and his mobile clinic giving the two seasoned veterinarians ample time to exchange ideas.
Dr. Mikota also participated in a Positive Reinforcement Training Workshop aimed at teaching oozies (mahouts) more gentle methods.
Our next project is to organize a pathology workshop in Myanmar in conjunction with Dr. Dalen Agnew at Michigan State University. The capacity to perform comprehensive post-mortem examinations is lacking here (and in other Asian countries). As unpleasant as this task is, the information that is gained is vital to help the living elephants.
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