Elephant landmine survivors on the Thai-Burma border

Many humans suffer injuries from landmines, but we are not the only victims. Elephants working as helper beasts along the Thai-Burma border often suffer the same fate, and are frequently killed by their caretakers because caring for the animals' injuries is not possible.

Here's a story about a baby elephant named Motala who stepped on a landmine in 1999 while working at a logging camp. A group called Friends of the Asian Elephant near Bangkok has been caring for her since then. She has a new prosthesis now, and it's helping her to walk:

The prosthesis, which looks like a boxing bag and is filled with wood shavings, has been fitted daily for more than two weeks.

CNN video: Link, BBC video and story here: Link. Image: Associated Press. (via the blog for landmine and bomb removal and victims' assistance organization Clear Path International, where you'll find many related stories)

Reader comment: Al Hunt says,

This story mentions that elephants that step on land mines often have to be killed by their trainers. I saw a show on this a couple of years ago. What the story doesn't make clear is what it means to that trainer.

Many of these trainers grew up with their elephants. They start training baby elephants as children, and develop a close relationship as they both grow older. As young adults, the trainers work with their elephants during the day and care for them at night. The elephant is bread-winner, protector, friend, and family member.

To put it in American terms, imaging being an early settler. You're in the middle of nowhere, and the horse you raised from a foal is now keeping you alive by helping you hunt, travel and farm. It hurts its leg, and you now have to shoot it. You have no prospects for ever getting another horse, and have no other skills. Can you imaging pulling that trigger?