Mosha and Motala, two Asian elephants that were injured by land mines in Southeast Asia, have recently received new prosthetic limbs from the Prosetheses Foundation. The Friends of the Asian Elephant animal hospital in Lampang, in Northern Thailand, provides care to elephants who are sick or injured.
Motala is a 48-year-old female elephant who lost her leg 10 years ago, while working in a logging camp. Ecowordly has several videos of earlier prosthetics for both Motala and Mosha, a 3-year-old elephant who lost her leg in 2006. Since Mosha is still growing, her new leg is adjustable so she won’t outgrow it. This video from National Geographic shows both elephants with their new limbs. I noticed that neither elephant seems to be using the prosthetics much; It’s almost as if they’re not putting any weight on them at all, so it’s unclear to me how much these prosthetics actually help the elephants walk. Even if they’re not functionally useful to the elephants, though, all of the publicity has drawn a great deal of attention to the plight of Asian elephants.
Asian elephants are frequently used in logging camps, and sometimes fed amphetamines to increase their production. With the recent reductions in logging in the region, many former logging elephants are now being used for begging or tourist activities. Asian elephant habitat is heavily fragmented and littered with land mines. Poaching and conflict with humans also contribute to their endangered status.