TEZPUR, March 22 � Mules, dogs and horses of the Army are regular visitors at No. 2 Advance Field Veterinary Hospital (2AFVH) at Misamari near here.
They are treated for injuries and ailments before resuming duties with the troops in various parts of the North-East. As a goodwill gesture, the caring veterinarians also treat animals brought in by civilians in the region for free. But when local forest officials recently brought in a gravely injured adult male elephant, Hospital Commandant, Col Nawaz Shariff immediately realised he had a �jumbo-sized� problem to contend with. A nearly six-inch long glass shrapnel was embedded on one of its foot puncturing the sole.
�It was one of the most challenging operations,� described Col Shariff on the efforts to anaesthetize the near 4,000-kg pachyderm.
�It was difficult to work on a wild elephant suffering from pain, so we risked a very dangerous procedure to anaesthetize it. We ensured that the body temperature was also kept cool by constant watering,� he said, explaining the management efforts.
Owing to its huge size, rendering elephants unconscious beyond 40 minutes can cripple it permanently. The fluids in the body get imbalanced and prolonged accumulation on one side make it difficult for it to stabilise on all the four limbs thereafter.
The elephant made a quick recovery once the foreign body was successfully removed and returned to the forests. In two other cases involving wild animals, a wild bear cub and an orphaned elephant calf were also among those treated. The bear cub was critically injured as a result of stone pelting by some village children when it accidentally strayed amidst them. Advanced ultrasonography on the cub helped in the prognosis and resuscitation. The elephant calf that was separated from the herd was found in a state of hypovolemic shock due to dehydration. The calf was treated and restored to forest officials at the nearby Kaziranga National Park. Although essentially 2AFVH caters to the large animal transport force comprising mules, horses and dogs that serve in the north-east under the Army�s 3 and 4 Corps, animals belonging to CRPF, SSB and Air Force are also regularly treated at the hospital.
2AFVH was set up on November 9, 1962 and celebrates its golden jubilee this year. It treats an average of 650 animals of the armed forces in the region annually. It is, however, living the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) motto �Pashu Seva Asmakam Dharma� meaning �Service to animals is our duty�, by providing extensive veterinary medical and surgical relief to the undernourished and sick animals of nearby villages and tea gardens that truly endears the vets in olive green to the civilians in the region.