National Geographic : 1957 Oct
506 E. P. Gee Bound for Field Duty, a Newly Trained Worker Boards Her Roomette with Diner Tuskless males, called makhnas, occasion ally succumb to violent attacks of must. I knew one makhna that roved the banks of the Ganges, near Hardwar, spreading terror. One night, indeed, he broke into the hut of a buffalo herdsman and trampled his wife to death as she tried to escape. We had to destroy the animal. Pachyderms Make Prize Patients Elephants in captivity are prone to a num ber of diseases, for which their mahouts over the centuries have developed a bewildering variety of medicines. A common ailment is an upset stomach, cured best by a simple change of fodder. Dropsy is more serious. This is an accumulation of water around the neck, chest, abdomen, and legs. Prescription: rest, a change of diet, complete freedom to graze, and protection from cold, heat, and rain. "Tough as an elephant's hide"-well, an elephant's hide is tough enough, but it is also extremely ticklish and highly subject to infection. Never touch an elephant's skin softly; it won't make him laugh, but it may make him react rather violently. Elephants mauled by tigers need patient and painstaking handling. The least careless ness in the early stages can give rise to maggot formation. If applied soon enough, a con centrated solution of permanganate of potash or a 10 to 15 percent solution of Mercuro chrome can prevent sepsis. Sometimes more drastic measures are called for. Maggots had crippled one of my ele phants and seemed blithely impervious to most chemicals. At last, by a happy chance, I hit upon the device of stifling them by spraying the wounds with kerosene mixed with an insecticide. It worked, and with the maggots out of the way the wounds healed quickly. An elephant's feet require a regular check up. Thorny and rough country can lacerate the sole, and macadam roads will often leave it tender and sore. I found that elephants made ideal patients.