Dor Khoun Meuang is getting very big these days! He is almost indistinguishable from the adult females from afar and is really starting to look like a fully developed adult.
He is certainly going to be a big guy by the time he hits his late teens. He is now roughly 11 years old and will soon start to show signs of musth. During this time, he may be more aggressive than normal as his testosterone will increase significantly and it will become a challenge for the Elephant Conservation Center’s tracking team to manage him during these times.
In January, Dor Khoun Meuang gave the release team a real scare as he became quite unwell. Thankfully, the team was able to identify that something was wrong due to a lack of movement from his GPS collar signals. The general movement of the released elephants seems to follow a pattern of spending one to three days in a small space of a few hectares before moving on to new feeding grounds. However, on the rare occasions that Dor Khoun Mueang leaves his surrogate herd to explore on his own, he tends to be more active. This behavior is normal for a male of his age in the wild, as they explore new areas independently, typically trying to associate with adult wild males.
After a few days of solitary roaming, the team noticed a lack of movement from Dor Khoun Meuang’s GPS collar data. The team set out to search for him but could not find him on the first day. They searched again the next day and thankfully the team found Dor Khoun Meuang at 10am. However, he appeared weak and was not eating. It was suspected that he may have had a bacterial infection that had led to dehydration. The veterinary assistant and team then spent the next four days in the forest looking after Dor Khoun Meuang and giving him lifesaving treatments including IV fluid administration, anti-biotic treatment, pain relief, cathosal (vitamin treatment) and Biosan TP (energy restoration treatment)
After two days of treatment, Dor Khoun Meuang showed a huge improvement both in his energy levels and appetite. He began to eat, drink, and defecate regularly.
The tracking team moved Dor Khoun Mueang to a more accessible area of the forest on the third day of treatment. This allowed staff to drive to the area with a 4x4 car in less than an hour instead of the 2.5-hour tractor trip at the location where he was found.
The GPS collars provided thanks to support from IEP could very well have saved Dor Khoun Mueangs life, as without knowing his location it may have taken too long in such a large forest for the ECC team to find him and provide the necessary treatment. He was released back with his herd in early February and has fully recovered.