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Last Updated: Monday, 29 August 2005, 00:24 GMT 01:24 UK
New leg for wounded Thai elephant
Motala wears her prosthetic limb at the elephant hospital in Lampang Province, Northern Thailand

A Thai elephant who lost a foot after stepping on a landmine six years ago has had a temporary limb fitted.

Motala, 44, is set to wear the sawdust filled canvas shoe for up to eight months to help her leg get strong enough for a more permanent prosthesis.

She made headlines in 1999 by stepping on a landmine during work at a logging camp near the Thai-Burmese border.

Vets managed to carry out delicate repairs on Motala's left foot, but the leg was left shorter than her others.

She has been cared for by the Friends of the Asian Elephant's hospital in Lampang province, some 600km (370 miles) north of Bangkok, ever since.

The prosthesis, which looks like a boxing bag and is filled with wood shavings, has been fitted daily for more than two weeks.

Long-running insurgency

Vets say they are relieved Motala has not rejected it.

"She didn't show sign of annoying or anything," hospital founder Soraida Salwala was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

"She has been very cooperative and I think when we put more weight on it, then she could finally stretch out the muscles and the tendons and we hope she will finally put the weight on it."

They plan to continue attaching the limb each day for seven hours to let Motala practise walking.

If all goes well, a heavier limb made from fibreglass and silicone will be fitted within six to eight months, said Soraida Salwala.

Motala's accident raised awareness of the plight of elephants working along the Thai-Burmese border, an area littered with landmines from Burma's 50-year insurgency.

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