Friday, September 2, 2011

The Incompete Story of Pang Pornsawan & Her Friends

I title this the incomplete story for at least two reasons:  1st I don’t know the whole story and likely never will, 2nd thanks to several wonderful people Pang Pornsawan’s story is not over, not over by a long shot.  
Pang Porsawan has a snack

On 30 August 20011, The Elephant Nature Park received an urgent phone call from the Karen headman in a village known as Tavor.  It is in Amphur Tasongyang, Chanwat Tak, Thailand. (If you want to find it on a map, get a very large map and search the Thai / Burmese border in the Tak province). The headman was asking for help to save Pang Pornsawan.  This 18 year old female elephant had stepped on a land mine.  Sangduen “Lek”  Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation immediately dispatched the vet team and mobile clinic from the park.  It’s about an 8 hour drive from Chiang Mai.
Dr. Prasit & Mr. Song Muang 
At the village they found this young  elephant name, who may also be in the early stages of pregnancy,  standing shaking and her left rear leg.  It is horribly damaged from the landmine explosion . The bottom of the goot is gone! There are incredible rips and tears in the skin extending some  24 inches up to the leg. There is shrapnel, a lot of shrapnel imbedded in the wound.  The wound was filthy and was described as smelly and rotten.
Raw Wound
Mr. Song Muang Suriya with the elephant
Mr Song Muang Suriya , headman of the village reports that this female elephant belong to his nephew , who takes the elephant across to work in  the elephant logging in the deep jungle of  Burma.  Every day after finishing work, pulling the logs , the mahout will let the elephant walk around the jungle to eat in the forest, On 23 August about 3 pm, just a couple minutes  after mahout let her roam free, he heard a big explosion and the elephant roaring and screaming from the jungle. The mahout ran to Pang Pornsawan to fine her trying to stand and falling down from the shock of the her injury.  The mahout and his friends tried to stop the bleeding with herbs. They succeeded but the elephant lost a lot of blood.

The next day the mahout startied walking the elephant out from the jungle to the village to ask for help. From the deep jungle, with heavy rain and small mud trail, it took 3 days and 3 nights to reach the village .

Doctor Prasit Moleechart the vet from Elephant Nature park called for help from the vet  team from Elephant Hospital from Elephant Conservation Center.  Doctor  Sittidet Mahasawangkul chief vet and his team were sent to help and move Pang Ponsawan to the Hospital in Lampang to have emergency surgery .

Dr Sittidet
On the morning of the 31st Pang Ponsawan was loaded on the TECC hospital truck and transported to the hospital in Lampang. She is now undergoing treatment and I have every intention of keeping you posted. In the meantime here is a photo collection of her trip to Lampang
Getting on the truck

Swollen after the necessary long ride

Happy and good natured just walked off the truck

First Treatment

The wound has been cleaned, she has a long long way to go

Lek reports that "In the last couple years too many of  elephants and farm animals in the village  are died and injured from the land mine  three days ago the villager lost 2 cows and many injured from landmine explosive”. Mr Rin Sudsai , Tavor's villager said it’s not just the animals; “the villagers and the Karen refugee many time died and injured from the explosive when they walk to find the jungle food or wood for fire. It very [difficult] insure for safety in the jungle this day” .

“We have received 3 injured elephant from this year , the first is the bull elephant who not deep , wound and we used the herbal to treated him and he was survive , later he went back to work  logging again”  Mr. Song Muang said.  “The second elephant is female , but she too bad injured, she stay suffer only a couple days and died “ Song Muang also said he doesn’t want this one to die so he decided to call the vet to help.

“Many elephant when they injured from landmine in the jungle , it too difficult to help and rescue them many of them died in the jungle which is tragedy “ Lek said.

Today in Thailand and along Burma border it more than 300 domestic  elephants that  work at risk of being killed or maimed by landmines. After Thailand banned logging in 1989. Many Karen took their elephants to work illegally in Burma.  Patee Tanu, one of the Karen elephant owners said “We have no choice, if we didn’t go to work then we have no income, then we have to take the risk”

My thanks to Sangduen “Lek” Chailert for allowing me to use her material to write this article.


  1. What a heart and gut wrenching story. My thoughts and prayers are with her and all of those involved in her care and rescue. Thank you for sharing Jerry, you are a beacon of information and for that I am eternally grateful.


  2. Oh Connie, THIS is so tragic. What a horrific wound to suffer. I am so appalled at mans inhumanity. Thank you for helping these innocence.