Applied Research and Regenerative Therapies

 Doug casting Jabu for the World's First Elephant Orthotic Leg Brace as seen on Animal Planet

Doug casting Jabu for the World's First Elephant Orthotic Leg Brace as seen on Animal Planet

In November of 2016, Jabu was injured by a wild bull elephant which left him with a damaged wrist joint and osteoarthritis. We have been researching innovative therapies to help Jabu. In December of 2017, Jabu trialled the world’s first orthotic leg brace for an elephant and the fitting was showcased on Animal Planets Dodo Heroes series.

This year Jabu started to receive a novel preventative drug, called Pentosan, developed in Australia for repairing cartilage in race horses. These costly monthly injections seem to make him more comfortable so far and we will continue this therapy for 2018.

We have been working in partnership with Colorado State University Centre for Immune and Regenerative DVM Medicine this past year. Blood was collected from donor young elephants and transported to the CSU lab. Stem cells were successfully grown from these samples and then checked for viability. They are good to go! They are frozen now and await permits to be awarded by CITES and federal authorities for import. We are six months out from transporting them to Botswana and injecting Jabu with these stem cells! This will be the first attempt at stem cell therapy for a wild African Elephant and only the fourth time that an elephant has been treated worldwide. The benefits are numerous including proven decrease in joint inflammation and catalytic action on resident stem cells at the site of inflammation to increase cartilage regeneration (and many other effects) without adverse reactions. In addition to benefits for osteoarthritis there are documented benefits in wound healing and resolution of infection in multidrug resistant infections.

 Stem cells grown successfully for Jabu at CSU! Photo by Dr. Val Johnson, Project lead

Stem cells grown successfully for Jabu at CSU! Photo by Dr. Val Johnson, Project lead

This project serves to benefit all wildlife by building local capacity for wildlife rehabilitation and veterinary care long-term. By exchanging expertise and information from American wildlife vets to Southern African participants, many more injured elephants and other wildlife will be helped. For example, it is possible stem cell therapy could be used to help save rhinos who require life saving reconstructive face surgery post-poaching injuries.

Jabu's stem cell therapy is highly technical and expensive given the challenges of getting people and supplies (and cells) to him in the Botswana wilderness, but will become reality in the next six months. Please join us in advancing these novel treatments for injured elephants.

Elephant Outreach School Program

 Jabu and local Botswana school aged children learn about their connections

Jabu and local Botswana school aged children learn about their connections

Our organization has listened closely to concerns of residents who share range with Elephants. Residents tell us that human-elephant conflict is big concern for them at a local level. At the same time, various researchers, government authorities, and international organizations are telling us that elephants are threatened by human presence. Somehow elephants and people need to learn to live together in more harmonious ways. Our foundation believes that one of the best ways to improve relations between the two species is by exposing Botswana’s youth to their natural heritage up close and to give youth an opportunity to discuss ecological and economic issues their country and people face.  By giving youth an opportunity to touch, feel and understand the African Elephant at a very intimate level, we hope to improve elephant-human relations one child at a time.

 
Jabu morula thembi botswana

Elephant Treatment Centre

Due to some recent health issues with our bull Jabu we have come to realize that we urgently need to put in a small medical treatment centre for our current elephants and future elephants. Our elephants, who are now middle aged, will continue from time to time have medical issues. Contact us if you would like to help fund the building of infrastructure.