After Suffering For Two Years, Wounded Elephant Is Finally Safe And Sound

Andrea A.
14/11/2015

In Zimbabwe, a group of vets and volunteers recently saved a beautiful African elephant who had been suffering for over two years from a horrific foot wound caused bya snare trap. Here's the story of his miraculous rescue.

Elephant-1

Source : @TheDodo

The elephant was first identified in2013 on the Zambian border by volunteers froma programme which defends elephants.Despite their efforts to help him, they losttrace of him.It wasn't until last month, October 2015, that the animal's trunk resurfaced.Lisa Marabini, one of the vets from theassociationAWAREwho treated the elephant toldThe Dodo:

He was seen in the company of another three bulls. He was feeling more vulnerable than the other three elephants and kept his distance from people.
Elephant-11

Source : @Kearsleys

The wound on his foot was still noticeable,and it looked severely infected.

Elephant-2

Source : @TheDodo

The elephant had been the victim of a snare trap which his foot had gotten caught in.The wire was caught in his foot and had been lodged in there for at least two years.It was clear to Lisa Marabini and Keith Dutlow, another vet from the association, that it was time to relieve him of his pain. So they decided to go find him, over 600 km away from their camp.

Snare-trap-1

Source : @dapuppetmaster

Finding an elephant is no easy task since they are constantly on the move. And even once in reaching distance of them, you have to be able to 'dart' themwith a sedative without making them run away.No easy feat.Laura Marabini explained:

The elephants are fully aware they are being stalked. Every time the team maneuvers into a potential darting position the elephant turns to face them, shaking his great ears menacingly.

Thankfully they managed to sedate the elephant after 45 minutes. They now had to act fast. The sedative takes about ten minutes to work and if the elephant falls asleep onto his trunk, itrisks suffocating and dying.

Elephant-4

Source : @TheDodo

The vets had to move him in order to avoid these problemsbecause his positioning was not ideal.

Elephant-6

Source : @TheDodo

Now it was time to treat his wound. The massive wire snare was still there, although his skin had grown back over it, there was a deep infection below.So Laura andKeith delicately began to extract the pieces of wire from his foot.The vets reported:

The elephant flinches and flaps his ears. Despite him being narcotised, his right eye seems to be watching everything we are doing.

But the wound was a lot deeper than they had thought. And after 20 minutes, they had still only managed to pull out a part of the wire. Even worse, it was beginning to get very dark.They carried on with the operation under the headlights of a Land Rover and with the lights on their mobile phones.

Elephant-8

Source : @TheDodo

Laura started to lose hope:

We began to think the snare would defeat us.

Finally, success!The whole snare had been removed from the elephant's foot. The vets cleaned the wound, gave him a dose of antibiotics and left the area.From their car, they watched as the animal slowly rose. He probably had no clue that he had been freed of the terrible cause of his pain for the past two years...

Elephant-9

Source : @TheDodo

But not all elephants are as lucky as this one. Because even if snare traps are technically illegal, they are still everywhere acrossZimbabwe. With unemployment at 90% of the population, most people have to revert to hunting in order to feed their families. Antilopes are their main targets,but it isn't rare to find larger animals injured by thesesteel wires which are scattered throughout every corner of their national parks.Zimbabwe is one of the last elephant refuges and their population is declining rapidly due to illegal hunting and poaching.If you want to support the association that helped save this poor elephant's life, click here. Well doneAWAREfor this miraculous rescue!

Source and featured image: @TheDodo

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