The Elephant Care Manual for Mahouts and Camp Managers is Asia's first elephant health care book written in an Asian language for actual mahouts to use in the field. Simply written and illustrated with very clear pencil drawings and photographs, the book is easily understood by any Thai with basic reading skills.

When the Thai Elephant Conservation Center begin its Mobile Clinic in 1999 it soon became apparent that while Thailand still had many skillful mahouts in traditional terms such as restraint techniques and even herbal medicines, most were woefully ignorant basic modern health care. The reason for the ignorance, it became clear, was that these men had such a poor awareness of basic modern science that they had no functional understanding of the real workings of disease, nutrition, and even hygiene. For example, because they had no understanding of microbes such as bacteria, most mahouts assumed that if their hands or a cleaning cloth looked clean, they actually were clean. This lack of knowledge was obviously dangerous when treating wounds and infections or mixing milk formula for an orphaned calf.

Luckily, unlike many Southeast Asian countries, Thailand has a very good basic educational system and thus probably over 90% of Thai mahouts are able to read and write. Three of the TECC's staff realized that a health care manual written in simple but clear Thai language could easily increase the mahouts' knowledge, and that greater awareness would in turn translate to better health care for elephants. The TECC contacted the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. FAO raised the money needed for research, writing, production and distribution of the highly innovative book.

The Care Manual deals systematically in how to safely transport elephants, how to restrain elephants without injury, and most importantly how to diagnose or recognize important diseases - and then how to then contact and obtain professional veterinary care. A key component of the manual teaches how to maintain cleanliness and perform simple but effective sterilization. The manual teaches how to, under a veterinarian's supervision, properly give injections, treat wounds, recognize parasites, and much more.

The Care Manual has been so widely distributed, by the Mobile Clinic and other means, that nearly every mahout and camp owner in Thailand has a copy. It has been translated and published both in Japanese and in Laotian. An English version was published simultaneously with the Thai and is available at