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Veterinary Medicine International
Volume 2015, Article ID 614690, 19 pages
Research Article

Elephant (Elephas maximus) Health and Management in Asia: Variations in Veterinary Perspectives

1P.O. Box 2786, Loveland, CO 80539-2786, USA
2University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
3Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, AR, USA
4Elephant Health Care Program (EHCP) of the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (Vesswic), Sumatra, Indonesia
5William H. Darr School of Agriculture, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO, USA
6Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, Polk City, FL, USA
7University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX, USA

Received 28 February 2014; Revised 9 September 2014; Accepted 15 September 2014

Academic Editor: Lorraine M. Sordillo

Copyright © 2015 David Miller et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There is a need to identify strategic investments in Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) health that will yield maximal benefits for overall elephant health and conservation. As an exploratory first step, a survey was administered to veterinarians from Asian elephant range countries at a workshop and via email to help prioritize health-related concerns that will mostly benefit elephants. Responses were received from 45 veterinarians from eight countries that had a range of experience with captive and wild elephants. The occurrence of medical conditions and responses to treatment varied among responses. However, injuries, parasitism, and gastrointestinal disease were reported as the most common syndromes responsible for elephant morbidity, whereas injury and infectious disease not due to parasitism were the most commonly reported sources of elephant mortality. Substandard nutrition, water quality and quantity deficiencies, and inadequate or absent shelter were among the factors listed as barriers to optimal elephant health. While this survey’s results do not support definitive conclusions, they can be used to identify where and how subsequent investigations should be directed. Rigorous assessment of the relative costs and benefits of available options is required to ensure that investments in individual and population health yield the maximal benefits for elephants.