Elephant Health Care

Why is this project so important?

The Sumatran elephant is the most endangered of all the world’s elephants. With less than 2,000 left in the wild, forest clearance has already halved their population within one generation.

At present, the continued existence of wild and captive Sumatran elephants is highly dependent on conservation efforts. The vets of the Veterinary Society for Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) provide regular animal care for captive elephants used for elephant conservation activities and provide emergency response for wild elephants and other wildlife.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s a policy by the Indonesian government was in place to resolve elephant crop-raiding by reducing the wild population. This policy was created and acted upon despite the Sumatran elephant being a critically endangered species.. Despite the practice ceasing several years ago, the legacy of that time resulted in hundreds of captive elephants that need care and stimulation. With Sumatra’s population of wild elephants plummeting, every wild and captive elephant is of increasing importance to the survival of this Asian elephant subspecies.

Project Partner: Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC)

Duration: 2007 – 2017

Sumatran elephant population: 1,720

Project goals

  • To contribute to the survival of the critically endangered Sumatran elephant subspecies by providing professional veterinary care and management support to ensure the health and welfare of captive and wild elephants and other wild animals.

What we do

Elephant Family has been the sole funder of VESSWIC since 2016. Until the government and other donors can accelerate assistance and stem the conditions leading to emergencies, the elephants of Sumatra are counting on us.

VESSWIC fills a crucial gap in overseeing that the captive elephants of Sumatra are cared for appropriately and diagnosed, treated and able to recover from any illnesses or substandard care. Along with their routine health checks and treatment of 185 captive elephants across Sumatra, the VESSWIC veterinary team also respond to emergency wildlife rescues of elephants, sun bears and other animals that often get trapped by illegal wire snares in and around the national parks, or to detect illegal poisoning incidents of elephants straying into farmers’ crops.

Some of the captive elephants treated by the vets are also  deployed for Conservation Response Units (CRUs) to help keep wild elephants away from crops and help mitigate growing human-elephant conflict.