On April 5th, 2022, we received alarming news about a newborn elephant in the Shimba Hills. Reports stated that the poor creature had fallen victim to a gruesome snare that was cutting deep into her tiny leg, and if left untreated, would have resulted in certain death. The situation was dire, and action needed to be taken immediately to prevent any further harm from befalling the innocent baby elephant. Our SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit and Airwing sprang into action, and we quickly mobilized our team to the scene. Our trusty helicopter was already waiting at the airstrip, ready to fly Dr. Poghon to the site where the elephant was in need of urgent medical attention.
To safely start treating the calf, the mother had to be sedated first. Since she would have been fiercely protective of her young one, this was an important step. The pilot spotted the pair from above and guided them to an open area. Dr Poghon then landed the dart, which put the mother to sleep. The ground team located her with the help of the hovering helicopter. They took care of her by pouring water behind her ears to prevent overheating and placing a small twig in her trunk to ensure unobstructed breathing. They also positioned her in a way that would make it easy for her to stand up once she woke up, knowing she would be eager to reunite with her baby.
A terrible injury from a snare had wrapped around the front left ankle of a newly born calf. Meanwhile, a helicopter scoured the vast expanse of Shimba Hills to locate the calf who had strayed away from her mother. The thick vegetation could easily hide even a full-grown elephant, making finding an infant calf quite challenging. However, the pilot’s unwavering focus and determination paid off, and they eventually spotted the tiny patient.
The team successfully freed the calf from the snare and immediately tended to its wound to prevent any possible infections. Meanwhile, a helicopter hovered above as the ground team navigated through dense forest to secure the baby. While waiting for Dr. Poghon to arrive and sedate the calf, the team worked diligently to keep the animal calm and comfortable. Everyone on the team pitched in to help, including the helicopter pilot who landed the aircraft to provide support. Once the calf was sedated, the team sprang into action to administer treatment.
During the treatment, it was crucial to ensure that both the mother and child were relaxed and comfortable at all times. The sight we were faced with was truly distressing – a cruel snare made of thick wire had tightly wound itself around the calf’s leg, causing a severe injury. The noose had sliced through the front left ankle, leaving behind a gaping wound. Despite the difficulty in removing the snare due to its thickness, our team persevered and was finally able to free the trapped calf. We then proceeded to clean the wound thoroughly and administer a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, followed by packing it with green clay for faster healing.
After the successful treatment, the team faced another difficult task of reuniting the baby with her mother. They had to carry her uphill for a few hundred meters through dense bushes. It was a challenging feat, but they managed to do it in the end. Finally, the baby was back where she belonged, snuggled up next to her mother.
The mother elephant and her baby were awakened from their sedation in close proximity to each other, where they belonged. Dr. Poghon carefully revived them while the rest of the team kept a safe distance. The two elephants shared a moment of affection before disappearing into the forest. The medical team will continue to monitor the injured mother as she recuperates. Despite her severe injury, Dr. Poghon is optimistic about her recovery since elephants are hardy animals. The little calf has a promising future ahead of her, thanks to the timely intervention. Her life is hers for the taking since she received assistance when it mattered.