A Young Elephant Rescued From The Hands of Poachers
February 5 2015

Anti-Poaching efforts are a cornerstone to ALERT’s conservation work and are vital to protect Africa’s iconic species. Following reports of a crippled elephant on a nearby island, a concerted effort was mounted by the BHAPU to find her - a young female. Founded in July 2009, Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit works tirelessly to prevent all forms of poaching against flora and fauna found in and around the Bumi Hills Wildlife Area in the north of Zimbabwe.  Their work aims to remove snares to prevent the death and injury they cause, as well as working with communities to stop poaching in the area.  

A few days ago, a team of poachers crossed to an island on Lake Kariba and shot three elephants. One elephant died immediately and two of these animals were wounded one for a short time before succumbing and dying,  the other  lived out a number of tortuous days with a deep bullet wound in the shoulder which became badly infected.. In this case, Dr. Richard Hoare, a well-known wildlife veterinarian (based in Harare), quickly responded to come and treat her. The following photos cover some of the processes involved. She was fitted with a radio tracking collar, and her progress will be regularly monitored. Once she has recovered fully, the collar will be removed.

Having been darted about 5 minutes earlier, she has 'fallen' in an awkward sitting position, so it was important to push her on her side to alleviate pressure on her internal organs, especially her lungs, which would otherwise reduce her oxygen intake capacity.

A metal detector was used to check for bullet heads/fragments. Just below where the detector is now a strong signal was detected, confirming the presence of a bullet as to the cause of her injury. It was decided to leave the bullet in situ, rather than cutting into deep muscle tissue and compounding the problem. The bullet will eventually be encapsulated in surrounding tissue and should pose no further problem.

The incision will be left open to further drain any more pus, and will heal of its own accord. Heavy doses of antibiotic were also administered (3 whole bottles for an elephant!). A radio tracking collar was fitted to enable close monitoring of her progress and will be removed when she has hopefully made a full recovery. She may, however, always have a slight limp in her right leg.

A final cooling dosing of water before the drug reversal is given.

Help strengthen anti-poaching operations to protect these vulnerable species by sponsoring an Anti-poaching Unit: visit http://lionalert.org/page/sponsor-anti-poaching-scout

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