When a baby elephant was caught in the deadly snare of a poacher, it could’ve been a tragedy. However, thanks to the quick actions of a Kenyan wildlife team, the elephant was saved.
Earlier this year, both species of African elephants were listed as critically endangered. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, poaching is a major contributor to the declining populations of African elephants. They wrote:
“The demand for elephant ivory led to devastating declines in the number of these giant animals particularly in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite international efforts to control the ivory trade and stop the decline of elephant populations, prices and demand for ivory remain high, resulting in continued poaching of elephants for their tusks.”
Despite the challenges that elephants face, there are groups of people and conservation groups who actively fight to protect these beautiful creatures from poachers.
The success of one such group was seen recently when the Kenyan Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) heard of a baby elephant caught in a snare. They were informed that the elephant was stuck, awaiting a grim fate, along a long remote stretch of the Tana River.
Article continues below
Our Featured Programs
See how we’re making a difference for People, Pets, and the Planet and how you can get involved!
The SWT immediately jumped into action to save the elephant, though it wouldn’t be easy. In addition to the challenging location of the trapped elephant, that elephant’s family was also in the area and posed a threat to any rescuers. Elephants are incredibly intelligent and are known to charge humans if they feel threatened.
Despite the challenges, the team got ready for the rescue.
The Executive Director for SWT, Rob Brandford, spoke to IFLScience and said, “This is the second elephant calf we’ve been called to save from a snare this year. These young, innocent babies are not necessarily the poacher’s intended victim: Small to medium sized snares are often set to catch animals for bushmeat. But these deadly traps are indiscriminate and do not discern between a young elephant or an impala and will maim any animal that has the misfortune to step in them or stick their neck through them.”
As Brandford explained, the SWT has partnered with 17 Mobile Field Teams and together they’ve destroyed 160,000 snares.
To respond to the baby elephant, the rescue team split into two groups. One group traveled by helicopter to reach the elephant while the other group took a canoe. The helicopter team stayed above to keep an eye on the adult elephants that posed a threat to the rescuers and the rescuers on the ground got to work at freeing the elephant.
The team had to use anesthesia to put the elephant to sleep before cutting the snare away. The rope of the snare was so tight it was cutting off the circulation to the baby elephant’s foot. Thankfully, their efforts paid off and they got the witness the little baby running back to its family.
Watch the incredible rescue in the video below:
You can support the SWT and their fight against poachers by donating on their website or by adopting an elephant.Whizzco