As part of our larger commitment to wildlife conservation, we've found a deeply resonant cause in Ellie, the youngest elephant amputee in Malaysia. Our support for Ellie and the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre serves as a testament to how collective action can drive tangible change in animal conservation projects. It's a meaningful chapter in our ongoing commitment to making a real impact in both society and the environment.


From pitfall to prosthetics

When Ellie was just one year old, a boar trap in Kelantan took her front right leg. Thankfully, villagers and rangers acted swiftly in this animal rescue effort. Ellie was taken to a local sanctuary for immediate medical attention, and her wounds slowly healed. But an elephant cannot survive on three legs for long. The vets and caretakers knew that as she grew, there would soon come a time when her legs wouldn't support her weight.

Ellie received tender loving care in the sanctuary as her leg wound healed.

Ellie's life took another significant turn at age two when she received her first prosthetic leg in the Kuala Gandah sanctuary.

Ellie is measured for her new prosthetic leg gifted by Deriv — August 2023

Two artificial legs a year

As a rapidly growing elephant, Ellie needs frequent prosthetic replacements, very much like how a child outgrows school shoes—but with much more urgency. Replacements come around every six months or so, and each needs to be sturdier than the last. This puts a focus on the importance of elephant conservation in Malaysia, and projects specifically designed to aid injured animals.

Ellie has put on almost 300 kg in the past 9 months. Her prosthesis bears this rapid growth.

A new chapter with Deriv's support

This year, we stepped in to fund Ellie's prosthetic needs, empowering a local prosthetics services company to enlist a certified Thai specialist with valuable knowledge in elephant biomechanics.

Making an artificial leg for an elephant involves the same considerations as human prosthetics, ranging from anatomy to weight. But the two creatures can't be more different when it comes to movement dynamics. This is why it was crucial for Ellie's new leg to be designed by a specialist who knew how elephants moved.

Yarham Hadeng, the Thai prosthetist who designed Ellie's new leg for Deriv

More than just a mechanical limb

With a new carbon fibre shell, more robust straps, and a foam lining for added comfort, the latest design is built to last. The prosthesis base is made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), strong enough to bear Ellie's significant weight. Further refinement comes in the form of anti-slip layers and a batik pattern that gives the leg a uniquely local character.

Ellie's new prosthetic leg supports her weight, natural way of movement, and growth rate.

Friends of the sanctuary

On 23 September, forty Deriv volunteers made their way to Kuala Gandah for a day of hands-on volunteering. The group committed themselves to tasks like cleaning paddocks, preparing elephant meals, feeding the elephants, and restoring the sanctuary's gravel paths. They engaged closely with the animals, gaining a deeper understanding of the elephants’ needs and conditions.

Deriv volunteers helped with transferring and preparing elephants' food.

They also visited Ellie to see how comfortably she could move about with her new leg. It was reassuring to see her confidently going up and down a tall step or running towards her beloved caretaker when he affectionately called out to her. For the volunteers, the day was a chance to engage in meaningful work that adds another layer to Ellie’s evolving story.

An ongoing journey

Ellie’s story doesn’t end here, nor does our involvement. The prosthesis is regularly monitored and adjusted to ensure Ellie’s ongoing comfort. She will receive her second Deriv-sponsored leg in January 2024 to replace the present one.

A memorable day for Deriv CSR volunteers at the Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre

Where action meets compassion

In January, another team of 30 Deriv volunteers embarked on an inspiring journey to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre. With sleeves rolled up, they dived into a day of assisting the caretakers, cleaning paddocks, preparing food for the elephants, and feeding the majestic animals. It was a learning experience, opening their eyes to the intricate lives of these gentle giants.

But their mission extended beyond the sanctuary’s bounds. They ventured into a nearby Orang Asli village, home to the indigenous peoples of peninsular Malaysia. The volunteers connected with the families, offered donations, and explored ways to support the native community.

 An image of Deriv employees in the Orang Asli village
Deriv volunteers with the indigenous people

Ellie’s new prosthetic leg

On 16 February, Ellie received her second Deriv-presented prosthetic leg. This latest prosthesis represents a significant improvement in design, specifically tailored to support Ellie’s growth and heightened activity levels over the past six months. The earlier prosthesis had proven to be no match for Ellie’s love for running about, and it often needed repairs and adjustments.

In response, the team enhanced the durability of the new prosthesis, especially its sole. Additionally, Deriv has committed to funding Ellie’s next two prosthetic legs, slated for delivery in 2024 and early 2025, ensuring her continued mobility and well-being. This commitment highlights our ongoing support for Ellie’s journey and our collective effort to improve her quality of life.

An image showing the sole of the prosthetic leg of a young elephant
The strengthened sole of Ellie’s second prosthetic leg

More than one elephant's story

Ellie's tale is an example of what can happen when diverse disciplines come together for a common cause. It shows the importance of knowledge, resources, and, yes, empathy in making a meaningful impact.

As Ellie walks forward with her new prosthetic leg, she's not just advancing on her own. She's challenging us to advance along with her towards a future ripe with potential for both her species and ours.