As if ivory poachers were not enough, elephants in Laos and Cambodia have been killed or maimed by land mines leftover from long and bloody wars.
The elephant in this video likely lost its leg to a landmine. But it has not only survived the ordeal, it is learning to walk again with the help of a new prosthetic leg.
It’s a sad fact of life that this elephant is not alone. Elephants are injured or killed by land mines every year, but compassionate groups like this one shown fitting the animal for its new leg, are making life after the loss more comfortable for the elephants.
The comments left on the video, first posted to Reddit by u/QyMbEr, explain a little more about this side of the story.
“In Cambodia/ Thailand/ Vietnam, Villages and small towns do whatever possible to save these amazing creatures,” commented Redditor u/Whichjuan. “And there are reputable sanctuaries devoted to exactly this and retiring work Elephants.”
“Apparently they are learning to avoid minefields,” wrote u/LDG192. “Scientists observed herds going around them. It’s believed that the elephants recognize the characteristic smell of the mines’ components.”
THE DEVICE SLIDES ONTO THE ELEPHANT’S FRONT LEG, WHICH IS MISSING BELOW THE KNEE.
“There’s been evidence building to support this,” wrote u/radiantcabbage. “Apparently double the capacity of dogs and over a much greater distance, they could smell from over half a mile away. the goal is to emulate the mechanism and try to automate it.”
“Rats are probably best in the field at this point, since they’re smart, sensitive, and light enough to traverse them without danger of triggering any, but they still need to zone off these fields and have handlers bring them in close. there could be efficient, early detection and safe sweeping,” the Redditor added.
THE PROSTHETIC IS TIGHTENED WITH SPECIAL STRAPS.
According to the Conversation
TNT’s low volatility makes it less likely that you might smell an odor wafting from the explosive, but are very good at it. Dogs, Gambian Pouched Rats and bees are adept at sniffing out landmines.
True enough, Elephants are, too.
“Our findings indicate that elephants are almost 5% more likely than dogs to indicate the presence of TNT when, in fact, there is none,” writes Ashadee Kay Miller, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand. “But dogs are almost 6% more likely to miss TNT than elephants are. It’s obviously better for TNT detectors to be prone to false positives rather than false negatives: in fact, it could be the difference between life and death.”
The elephant in this video may not have been trained to smell landmines, or understood the danger the smell represents, but it is clearly living its best life with a group of caring humans.