Madhubala is one of four African elephants being treated in Karachi by an eight-member team from global animal welfare group.

Veterinarians had to use drills and other heavy surgical tools to extract an infected tusk.
Veterinarians had to use drills and other heavy surgical tools to extract an infected tusk. (Reuters)

A team of Austrian veterinarians has performed a surgery on a female elephant in the port city of Karachi, relieving her of lingering pain caused by a broken tusk infection.

The five-hour and 40-minute “unique" and "complicated" procedure by Four Paws — a global animal welfare organisation that arranged the surgery — was performed at the Karachi Zoo on Wednesday.

Madhubala, the 17-year-old elephant, is named after a legendary Indian actress. It is one of the last four captive elephants in Pakistan.

"Her tusk was broken, and the tissue inside the wounds was inflamed and infected. She was in a lot of pain and without treatment, the inflammation could expand and cause blindness or even brain damage and death,” said head veterinarian Amir Khalil.

He told Anadolu Agency that the elephant was put under standing sedation to remove dead tissue and clean a root canal.

Instead of a traditional approach, the team used a "less invasive, and unique" technique that requires less complicated aftercare, given conditions at the zoo, he said.

"We used specially designed drills and endodontic burs along with other dental instruments," he said.

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'She can eat and drink with ease'

Caretakers were taught how to conduct regular post-treatment flushing and how to clean the wounds to prevent further inflammation.

"Now, she can eat and drink with ease," he said, adding that the animal would take a week to fully recover.

The Four Paws team will perform a similar surgery on Thursday on another female elephant, Noor Jehan, named after the queen of the fourth Mughal emperor Jehangir, at the zoo.

The visiting veterinarians also treated two other female elephants, Malika (queen) and Sonia, who are suffering from cracked and overgrown nails, footpads and abscesses, at Karachi's Safari Park.

The team gave aftercare instructions to a local team.

"Our recommendation includes that all four elephants should be reunited at Karachi Safari Park once they will recover from the surgery," said Khalil.

He added that the animals need a "species-appropriate" diet and enrichment.

Four Paws had also arranged the transfer of 36-year-old Kaavan, the country’s "loneliest" elephant, to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia in November 2020, to spend its remaining years following a years-long campaign by animal lovers from across the globe.

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Source: AA