Miraculous Recovery: Injured Elephant Emerges Victorious After Two Years of Agony

In Zimbabwe, a team of dedicated veterinarians and volunteers recently rescued an African elephant that had suffered for over two years from a horrific foot wound caused by a snare trap. Here’s the inspiring story of his journey to recovery.

The Discovery and the Long Wait

The elephant was first spotted in 2013 near the Zambian border by volunteers from a program dedicated to elephant conservation. Despite their attempts to help, he vanished and wasn’t seen again until October 2015.

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Lisa Marabini, a vet from the association AWARE, recalled: “He was seen with three other bulls. He felt more vulnerable than the other elephants and kept his distance from people.” The severe infection in his foot was still apparent.

The Painful Injury

The snare trap had embedded a wire in his foot for at least two years. Vets Lisa Marabini and Keith Dutlow from AWARE knew they had to alleviate his suffering. They embarked on a mission to find him, traveling over 600 kilometers from their base.

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The Challenging Rescue Operation

Tracking an elephant is difficult as they are always moving. Even when found, sedating them without causing alarm is a challenge.

Lisa 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.”

After 45 minutes, they managed to sedate him, but they had to work quickly. The sedative takes about ten minutes to take full effect, and if the elephant falls asleep on his trunk, he risks suffocating. They had to reposition him to prevent this.

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Treating the Wound

The wire snare had embedded deeply, with skin growing over it and a severe infection beneath. Laura and Keith began carefully removing the wire pieces.

Despite sedation, the elephant showed signs of awareness, flinching and watching them with his right eye.

The wound was more profound than expected, and as darkness fell, they continued the operation under vehicle headlights and phone lights.

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Laura admitted she started to lose hope, but finally, after 20 minutes, they moved the entire snare.

They cleaned the wound, administered antibiotics, and watched from their car as the elephant slowly got up, likely unaware that he had been freed from the source of his agony.

The Bigger Picture

Unfortunately, not all elephants are as fortunate. Despite being illegal, snare traps are common in Zimbabwe.

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With 90% unemployment, many people resort to hunting to feed their families, often setting snares meant for antelopes but injuring larger animals like elephants.

Zimbabwe, one of the last refuges for elephants, is seeing a rapid decline in their population due to illegal hunting and poaching.

Support efforts to protect these magnificent creatures and help prevent such tragedies.

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