Changing Planet

Poisoned Tusker Treated in Daring Field Operation, the Eleventh in Two Weeks

A large tusker lies unconscious on the wet ground as the emergency helicopter lands. Photo by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
A large tusker lies unconscious on the ground as the emergency helicopter lands. Photo by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

TSAVO NATIONAL PARK, Kenya––On September 15 vets in the field successfully treated a large iconic bull elephant during a daring field operation, after the animal was found poisoned by a poacher’s arrow.

The tusker had a clearly visible wound in his back right leg when pilot Neville Sheldrick, while on a routine air patrol, spotted the animal limping through the bush. He immediately called the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit to come to the aid of the troubled elephant.

Authorities quickly deployed a helicopter, along with a vet from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), to dart the animal, and a rapid response ground team waited to move in with medical equipment to treat the wound.

“There are a number of factors that determine how quickly an elephant will die from a poisoned arrow,” explained Angela Sheldrick, Executive Director for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an orphan-elephant rehabilitation project and conservation organization based in Nairobi.

“The freshness of the poison, the location of the arrow and how deeply it penetrated its quarry are some of the variables.”

“It can take hours, weeks, or even months for the animal to perish,” she said.

See the video of the dramatic rescue below

 

Deadly Skill

“There are tribes bordering Tsavo National Park that are extremely proficient in the art of poisoned arrow poaching,” Sheldrick said. “The technique is passed down through the generations and is sadly very effective.” (See: Beloved African Elephant Killed for Ivory)

As storm clouds gathered, pilot Humphrey Carter, along with KWS Veterinary Officer Dr. Poghon, flew the DSWT helicopter into the area. They darted the bull from the air at 1:00 p.m., and he conveniently fell onto his left side, allowing the vets easy access to the wound.

The bull’s companions–a group of old male elephants who were milling around by his side– had to be chased off by the helicopter so that the ground team could move in and work uninterrupted.

The elephant lay unconscious on the red earth, and his great white tusks, now horizontal, pointed aimlessly toward the dark horizon. A torrential downpour, the first of the season, made working conditions wet for the vets as they tended to the open wound, removing all the dead tissue that was forcing its way out of the arrow hole.

Once the wound was clear and the long-acting antibiotics administered, the vets injected the antidote and waited to see what would happen. Despite the slippery soil, the elephant managed to slowly stand up.

The elephant manages to rise up in the wet mud. Photo by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Up and Walking

The proud team, soaking wet and muddy, watched the bull walk off into the veld and join his companions, who were waiting patiently a little way off.

He was the second elephant that the veterinary unit saved that day, and the eleventh treated against poachers’ arrows in the past two weeks. Continued aerial and ground monitoring (in the worst cases, the team mark the treated elephant’s back with paint, which makes identification from the air easier) confirm that all 11 animals have made a full recovery.

“The recent upsurge in poaching is due to considerable offshore demand for ivory,” said Sheldrick, “creating a financial incentive to kill elephants which reaches all the way down the supply chain to the poachers on the ground.” (See: 100 000 Elephants Killed by Poachers in Just Three Years)

To match the threat in Kenya, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service, now runs nine anti-poaching teams within the area. The team has four aircraft and a helicopter, providing aerial support, patrols, and assistance to the field teams in detecting illegal activities or injured animals.

Vets work on the wounded elephant. Photo by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Vets work on the wounded elephant. Photo by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

“Our anti-poaching teams have arrested more than 1,000 poachers,” Sheldrick said. “These arrests range from notorious elephant poachers through to bush meat poachers.”

The Sky Vet program was established a year ago to treat cases that are located in areas inaccessible to the mobile veterinary units. In that time Sky Vet has already saved 80 elephant lives.

“This ground and air support has proved extremely effective,” Sheldrick said. “Without the efforts of the Kenya Wildlife Service, together with support from us, the situation in Tsavo would be significantly worse.”

Follow Paul Steyn on Twitter: @paulsteynless or Instagram: @steynless

Paul Steyn is a widely-published multi-media content producer from South Africa, and regular contributor to National Geographic News and blogs. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel and wildlife magazine, and now focuses on nature storytelling in all its forms. In 2013, he joined a team of researchers and Bayei on a 250km transect of the Okavango Delta on traditional mokoros. In 2016, he accompanied the Great Elephant Census team in Tanzania and broke the groundbreaking results on National Geographic News . Contact: paul@paulsteyn.com Follow Paul on Twitter or Instagram
  • Wayne Orr

    Cut their tusks now to save them. If they are going to be killed WITH tusks, let’s save them by removing the demand, while we educate the superstitious ignorant.

  • Alexander Gomez

    Great Work!!! How can we contribute to SkyVet??? Please let me know. Thanks.

  • Burayzat

    God bless you and give you strength, that is how humans should be, cherishing life.

  • Rapthi De Silva

    Thank you so much to the David Sheldrick wild life officials and the good people at the Kenya wild life service. May you be blessed for saving these great voiceless innocent animals. May all the poachers and people involved in buying ivory die the same way and rot in hell. You all are beyond despicable.

  • jamal49

    The Chinese are primarily responsible for this as well as for the poaching of Rhinoceros for their horns because the Chinese are the market being supplied. What is needed is a mercenary army, funded by the world’s people, to go after poachers and kill them before they kill innocent, defenseless animals. There is no other way to stop this. Maybe then, poachers will get the message what they do will not be tolerated and will have consequences.

  • Peter Hoffman

    Job well done guys thank you very very must in the name of this BIG tusker!!!

  • Denniz

    You guys are our heroes, thank you alot

  • Andrei

    RESPECT!

  • Jai krishn

    Great Job.. Keep the good works bro.. really happie to see the animal back to its position 🙂

  • Jovana

    Beautiful indeed..thank you!

  • Gail Grange

    It is sad that this has to happen. Thank you Sky vets. x

  • Thiagarajan Duraisamy

    Great job guys. Now to shoot the poisoned arrow back at the poachers.

  • titus

    good job thanks alot

  • Ivan Ivanov

    Great work !!!

  • Andrzej

    Great job!
    You are heroes!
    Brawo

  • sombra

    agree with jamal49

  • Richard

    Standing ovation

    * clap clap clap clap *

  • Martin goats

    Great work guys….i wish u could form a group that can train some of us to assist you as non-paid members on our leave days

  • Katja

    Great job, well done to the team. What is the punishment for poachers? How can the demand for ivory be limited and what can we do in everyday life to support the cause?

  • Arsalan Siddiqui

    Good job!

  • Susan Brown

    Amazing work. Can’t thank you enough for all that you do for the plight of elephants. Please don’t stop!! Thank you, Thank you.

  • Nitai Das

    It’s a great rescue operation….Regards to the otherity…

  • anup

    I will like to join your KWS TEAM

  • Ömer

    Western and Zionist killing people know better. ostensible humanity
    🙁

  • Peter Afram

    Agree that China has the main responsibility for the eradication of both the elephant and rhinoceros and tiger. The market is at this stupid foul ignorant and superstitious china culture. But one should shoot and kill any poachers to highlight that it is serious and that it will have consequences for poachers. Loves people who rescue these fine animals should be protected and preserved

  • RADHAKRISHNAN

    Fantastic job. I wish I had so much of money to build an army to protect these innocent, defenseless animals. Couple of comments are worth noting. The U.S. spend billions to destroy other countries saying that they are saving the world. How? If 1% of that money spend to save these poor animals, they would create a better world. Also, kill the poachers mercilessly as they kill the animals. Stop the Chinese ‘invasion’ in to the animal world. Can the U.S. as the self appointed ‘world police’ do something?

  • ACH

    Thank God there are people who truly care and have the ability to help these magnificent creatures. Thank you!

  • Ellen Villar

    Great job! Keep on! Preserve life in the animal kingdom..

  • João

    Excelente !

  • Neevy Laningham

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart! A picture with a thousand words, It brought me tears.

  • Renuka Sharon

    Great work and Thank you. We need to save elephants and stop all this wild life slaughter. Wish I could join you and help. Don’t arrest the poachers – shoot on site and the idea of giving them Ebola virus to spread amongst themselves is good but I would worry they may spread it to the monkeys and chimpanzees etc

  • Devin

    Greet job:)
    Thank you to save wildlife:)

  • Bandara

    Great job guys as Sri Lankans we all salute you

  • Vivaquan

    You guys are truly amazing <3 I wish I'll have a chance to work with you!

  • Savy

    great job! I think another action that should be considered is safely removing the tusks. If they aren’t there then they won’t be a target. I saw it done with rhinos for the same reason.

  • Wix

    You guys are great! Good work! Keep it up!
    We all support your cause!

  • Math Flair

    You are wonderful! Thank goodness for people like you!

  • steve

    That’s a great job. That great animal is saved for now.
    But for how long ??
    He is still walking around with that 3 meters long tusks, and can still be threaten at any time.
    The rescue workers should have removed at least part of those long tusks before leaving him to roam around again..

  • Prakash Shrestha

    Good human beings…….Great Job

  • Janderson Oliveira

    Beautiful work, congratulations.

  • Hosen

    Guys you made me grateful!!!! Thanks a loooooooot!!

  • Tarequl Islam Munna

    Brave effort. These beautiful creatures deserve the best conservation money can buy. Please don’t stop!! Thank you.

  • Milena

    Thank you so much, please don’t let those devils to kill poor animals….. just save them, and arrest for life sentence the poachers.

  • Abhishek Ghosh

    Great Job.. Wish the Team Best wishes for future Endeavours .. Also wish the elephant lives a hearty Life !!

  • Uzma Razzaq Khan

    Great heart touching work I love elephant. Accept my prays keep it up

  • Linda

    Great job well done. Greed will be responsible for many species becoming extinct in the next 50-100 years. Why do we have to destroy the beauty of nature for short term gain??? Money will come and go but once a species is destroyed it can never be replaced. Will we never learn???

  • Ken

    Some thought ought to be given to why these poachers are poaching. Do they have no other means of survival, or are they just greedy and wicked. Lock the latter up and throw away the key, but life is complex.

  • Gillian

    Great Job – May GOD continue to bless you all!

  • Chaudhry Sufyan

    Dear Doctors, Thank you to serve.

  • Chaudhry Sufyan

    Dear Doctors, Thanks to Serve.

  • Jennifer Estrella

    What a wonderful article to read! So glad that you are there to take care of the elephants both for their sake and for the rest of us. What measures can be taken to stop this? I know that if the demand were not there, the poachers would not be there either, but is some kind of an agreement being made with the Chinese authorities so that they fine or incarcerate people distributing and buying goods made out of exotic animal parts? Without this, it will just keep happening again and again and one day you won’t get there fast enough to save the animals. What can I, and people like me who live very far away, do to bring about change?

  • Dave Ruddock

    Rhino horns are fitted with tracking devices, why can not Elephants be the same ?
    Obviously not all the Elephants have to have one, just a couple in each group.
    That way if an Elephant is taken then the tusk can be located and the main dealers dealt with.
    The local tribes who are killing Elephants should be encouraged financially to give up the names of their contacts.
    The sentence for killing a protected species should be 20 years minimum and all assets seized.
    KWS should seek to recruit suitably trained ex service people
    to patrol the parks [ this is what happens on private game reserves] All this cost a great deal of money but 50 years down the line when there only a handful of these beautiful animals left then it will be too late. As human beings we are all responsible.
    The cost of two guided bombs, the type they are now dropping on a daily basis would fund the whole project for a number of years.
    As an Ex member of the services I would if
    [ I was younger } give my services for free to help.

  • Carolyn LeBlanc

    Thank you for saving him and all the others who would be lost without you. Can you post a link to SkyVet, we would contribute also.

  • ramon m. usison

    Geeat job, please dont give up. Continue saving wild lifes.Save the elephants, jail the poachers.

  • Gunther Allen

    I’m so thankful for people who are so dedicated to save these magnificent animals. It frustrates me that the people who kill for the ivory obviously will continue to do so for greed and just to make a living. There is a total disconnect that allows poachers to do so much damage. Stiffer penalties like life in prison may change the minds of those who try to kill for profit.

  • Prasad Solasa

    Great job, docs! God bless you and give strength to carry on your good work!

  • Taban

    My heart bleeds when I see heartless poachers causing harm to our wildlife. The African governments should enact laws that will see convicted poacher jailed for life or hanged to deter others from doing so.

  • Stiffer Punishment

    The technique is passed down through the generations and is sadly very effective”
    I really think its sad prison is not enough a detterent and puts a fiscal burden on the peoples of these poor countries that should not be there. Im of the opinion that they should be crucified. I would think the corpses of poachers be left up for other poachers to see would be a good detterent. Short lived detterent that it would be as they would be recycledinto the ecosystem rather quickly by birds and meat eating mammals. For a longer lasting detterent if they cant murder these murderers, rather than crucify them should have their tusks removed, and Im not talking teeth. When detusking them they should remove their hangers as well so they cant produce the material to spawn more poachers to hand down techniques from generation to generation. Visually maiming them as the removal of their nose leav them a gaping hole in their face so no one can not notice them all should see the disgrace that they bring upon themselves. Functional maiming by the removal of the middle ring and index fingers and half of each thumb , leaving them with a pinky and a half a thumb for the rest of ther days so as to be a walking reminder to everyone else that people will not stand for this kind of activity. Their bloodline will end with them. Humankind can live on without them. Their presence is not only destroying bloodlines of these animals they risk the existence of the species. Allowing these practices to continue should not be an option, increasingly drastic measures are needed to put an end to these atrocities. People might think “how could you do this to another human being” However I see it as an appropriate level of punishment that they are bringing upon themselves. We need to give them what they deserve. And those caught further up the smuggling chain should receive like punishment. They can think about what they did to deserve it and it would leave reverberating effects rippling up the chain of command. Personally I believe that lower level people in the chain facing such punishment would quickly roll over onto the people above them and quickly take out what is left of the smuggling ring. Being many times when they get the low level smugglers they are quickly replaced, and they dont get the people running them. Getting to the top of the chain is necessary. People gotta start at the bottom to get to the top.

  • Dr L A K Singh

    You were swift.
    You were compassionate.
    You were well planned.
    Success came to you.
    Congratulations

  • Fiona Roland

    Thank you for saving this innocent elephant and for all the hours spent looking out for them.

  • naved syed

    gr8 job hats off

  • patrick joshua

    great job…thank you for saving this wonderful animal…keep doing this great work….Thank you

  • Yassine

    Hi…! Thank you so much for this great and beautiful intervention…! GOD BLESS YOU ALL. I hope that you always find the means and the support to keep working in good condition, even we know it’s so hard to do it in Africa… But we have faith in you all to resist and give your best. Animals have the RIGHT to exist, to live in peace and to feel safe in their own places…! Just enough… Stop this cruel acts… We need all the creatures in the world whatever and whenever to maintain the world in good balance as everyone knows…! HAVE A GOOD LUCK…!

  • Floc’h Emilie

    I love elephants ♥

  • ventadou sébastien

    arrêter s’il vous plait les chasseurs car les éléphants et toute autre créature sur terre mérite de vivre

  • ventadou sébastien

    arrêter les braconniers et les personne du commerce de l’ivoire pour qu’il soit emprisonner à vie car les éléphant et toute autre créature mérite de vivre pour les génération futur .qu’il n’est pas à découvrir sur des livres ou internet que l’homme à détruit tout les éléphants du monde et bien d’autre créature.n’abandonner jamais le combat.

  • Terence Tanner

    I have to take my hat off to these dedicated guys who look after these precious animals we have a capacity for good but there are far more evil bastards out in the wild places if they where starving and needed the food it would be different. Very well done GOD gave us all the animals in the world not to kill for profit but for powerful allies in keeping the eco system alive. GOD BLESS YOU ALL

  • Ahn Hyun-Ju

    We are all with you. Thanks million times.

  • Dr.S.M.Jalil.

    Sad affair. Why CITES is silent. Should respond quickly in such a case! a great job by the team- let humanity prevails for all creature.

  • Sunil kumar

    Really its great …they have done great job….we need ti appreciate people who are really care about our environment and wildlife. ..

  • Carla Fletcher

    These people are amazing. This animal was majestic! !! Thank you for saving him and others. It’s sad what poachers have done and do to these beautiful animal. They are not on this earth to torture and kill to make a fast buck!!! Just watching him walk off into the sun was an amazing site. They were created to live a long life span for a reason. Let them live !!!! Keep doing what your doing. You are in God’s good graces for what you do .

  • Jo

    Where can one give to support the cause?

  • chris

    great article

  • Mohamed G Bah

    I feel proud of the team for their wonderful fight to save the elephants that were slowly dying from the poison. I am delighted to read your piece about the rescue and I feel part of the operation as read through. Thanks may Allah protect you in your daily search and rescue mission.

  • jennifer

    wow. great job for the vet team. keep up the good work.

  • Eric Paul

    1,000 poachers have been arrested. Ok, great…and then what? Leaving out the details of the arrests and sentencing doesn’t give us readers a clear picture at the overall issues feeding this ongoing dilemma. I have a feeling that punishment for killing these Elephants, or other protected species, is wayyyyyyy too light. Why doesn’t NatGeo also concentrate on the root problem that’s preventing a viable solution. I’m sure they’ll find plenty of unethical bribing going on between government and poachers/suppliers.

  • Douglas Montgomery

    Not sure we deserve this planet.

    But good work, goes someway to restoring faith in humankind.

  • johan ojeda

    pues la verdad q no ay leyes bien duras para todos los cazadores furtivos esa forma de ganar dinero aciendo sufrir alos animales es intolerante

  • liz bradford

    i dont know but i would like to know would it not be possible to remove the majority of the tusk so as to make it valueless to the poachers,and debud the rhinos so their horns wouldt grow i realize itts drastic but the suffering might be stopped.

  • Shari Batt

    This makes me so mad. Humans will not be satisfied until all the animals, birds and fish are destroyed. Then we wont have to worry, there will be nothing. I wish the laws would change around the world and shoot anyone poaching anything. Hats off to all those that try to help. Sky Vet, and crew, your the best!!!

  • Andrea Gravel

    These poachers are dirt. I know they are hungry. Maybe even starving and that’s a tough enemy. But others are too and they don’t poach. They need to be taken out and let the REAL evil people at the top tumble. There should be a death sentence for this. We have plenty of humans (so we can AFFORD to get rid of them) but elephants are rare and truly exceptional. Bless all those who care and actually work to make a difference.

  • Mary Jane Kinkade

    Remarkable!

  • Joseph Dembski

    What a terrible plight these beautiful animals suffer. It may sound drastic, but why don’t each of the countries where these elephants roam designate them as a ‘National Animal’ the killing of which is punishable by death. Maybe that would help.

  • Diane Pelletier

    The Chinese invasion of sub Sahara Africa is the downfall of the elephant population.

  • Ron Weaver

    Great job. Look up the word hero in the dictionary and there will be your picture. I’m guessing it would be too great a project but why not take on a project like they did with the white baby seals in Canada. A one time darting of all elephants with mature tusks and put some type of bright red dye that would soak into the tusk and render it monetarily useless? I also like the shoot on site all poachers ap[proach.

  • Denny

    These countries where the populations of endangered animals live are going to have to make a commitment as to which is more valuable…the animal, or the poacher….and then make the price of poaching, more valuable that the price of the ivory…namely, they (the poachers), give up the right to their lives. Just the same as Turkey doesn’t have a drug problem….you’re caught with drugs, you die…it’s a simple concept to understand. Provide complete immunity to the enforcement teams, to eliminate the threat permanently on site. IF by chance they catch them later and arrest them, execute them…and extend this, all the way up the chain…from the actual native with the gun or bow, to those trafficking in the contraband. It’s far more effective than trying to educate, in some case entire primitive thinking mentalities in Japan, China, Korea etc. that there is no benefit in potions made from the contraband. Once the poacher or trafficker is dead….HE won’t be killing anymore wildlife.

  • victoria

    If the poachers are killing the elephants for their ivory and we cannot control the buyers, why can’t we remove the tusks? When the team was on the ground helping and the elephant was anesthetized that was the time to give him a second chance to life without ivory! Please please remove tusks from all the elephants!

    • nsecchi

      That would be a major operation. The tusks are teeth embedded in the skull like human teeth.

  • victoria

    Just do a search on alibaba.com and you get all sorts of search results for mammoth ivory? Is that really true, I suspect it’s from elephants.

  • ROSIE

    I’m truly in awe and grateful around the work you do around the protection and rescue of these elephants. It’s impossible for me to imagine a world without them…….but I guess that could happen if it weren’t for your efforts. What about the the “offshore demand”. I know a lot is already being done to try and curtail black market export, but I share a similar view to eric paul. There will always be corrupt government officials (on both sides of the water), – that will never change. I’m pretty sure I know who the culprits are but In what countries is the bulk of ivory surfacing ? This may seem naive but Is there no way to escalate the issue and more publicly expose and embarrass these governments, societies/cultures (more than they have already)? What is the penalty in Africa for poaching/killing an elephant? I would imagine it would vary from from region to region but i’s obviously not stiff enough any where. I know this is a complex issue and my comments may seem naive. Ali I know is that when I read stories about any species being hunted and poached , especially for a body parts or a trophy, – i quite literally feel my heart drop to the pit of my stomach, and feel sick. The work you do gives me a glimmer of hope.
    Thank you

    side bar note:
    I know I’m very lucky to live in British Columbia but I’m embarrassed and ashamed to report that even our government approves an open season on several wildlife species here, – most notably black bears and grizzlies. A few for their meat but most for trophies and/or i’m sure body parts. They would argue that we have plenty and that they’re “managing the”resource”, – I just see it as a legalization of what happens illegally in countries like Africa.

  • Heidi Wyle

    I have walked among the elephants in Tsavo and seen their remarkable intelligence: old ones who have survived poaching raids remember humans and can be aggressive. We also visited the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust where I blew into a baby elephant’s trunk and felt him blow back into my face in a lifetime-recognition ritual for him. Thank you to the many who are rescuing these creatures. Five air units are expensive; all of us who care should consider a donation to the Trust. Thank you National Geographic for covering this important initiative.

  • Zubin Balaporia

    What a wonderful job this task force is doing.
    Obviously, considerable time, effort and monies go into this program. Congratulations on a job well done.

  • joe blow

    letting China sell the world junk is the root problem.. then all they can think about is ivory and shark fin soup..

    its cause and effect..

    • nsecchi

      The consumption of shark fin soup has declined significantly in China. This decline is most significant in the younger people. It gives me hope that the buying of ivory will decline as it becomes less acceptable to buy it.

  • Triveni

    To save trees in Amazon forest, a novel scheme has been running successfully; locals are paid for not cutting the trees. Number of trees is strictly monitored by the State agency with the help of UN. May be a similar program would deter the elephant poachers too. They need money and regular income for protecting the animal would be a better, tempting option for them than the risky and uncertain option of killing the animal.

  • Brice

    Sheldrick Trust…. you ROCK! Thanks so much for all the amazing work you’re doing there. I’m so sad when I read how poaching continue this way but makes me proud to support the foundation for years.
    Keep fighting guys!!!

  • landerson

    much of the problem is due to population explosion of humans due to well-meaning westerners giving antibiotics and vaccines without also giving birth control. My uncle AM Harthoorn helped invent the dart gun – he would be very sad to see the current state of play.

  • my 2 cents

    its really SAD and rather pathetic how all the liberal minded posters are ALL for taking out their angry feelings on those who kill the elephants WHEN the actual cause of the serious problem is the other end of the supply chain ie the consumers of ivory. Most of the endandered animals globally killed for body parts is for “medicinal” purposes and in ivory’s case decorative purposes as well.

    I suspect the same folks do NOT advocate we kill the pot farmers of the world nor the poor locals forced by the $$ or guns of their local cartel who are part of the coke supply chain.

    PS the guys is the video deserve more funding so their way of helping the animals can be done in more places!

    • nsecchi

      I posit that “liberals” bemoan both the killing of elephants and the buyers of the ivory. Does that make me a liberal or can’t conservatives hold both concepts in their minds at the same time?

  • Harold Daniels

    Kenya, the site where this happened was outlawed sport hunting. Game managers know that sport hunting brings much needed revenue into an area and the locals then see value in the animals presence. Also many professional hunters who lease the various concession areas do much to patrol and minimize poaching. The animals as a species would benefit in the long run if Kenya were to, once again, allow sport hunting.

  • Dr. Riaz Bagha

    I was recently at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphan release site at Tsavo, Kenya: what beautiful intelligent animals they are! One baby elephant actually wound his trunk on my chest in a show of …affection, maybe?! I was thinking of various ways for three days while at the campsite on how to save these iconic giants. Here is an idea: let us all start propagating the idea widely that some of the locals, in their love for their elephants, have CAST A CURSE on the ivory and that the households that posses it will have misfortunes on its members. We know where the largest market is. Now let us do our part in playing on the superstitions that has presently devastated the elephant population. In essence, let us fight superstition with superstition. Create stories, be creative. Let us all do this and you will see results: one more elephant saved is one more walking free in Africa!

  • julie titcombe

    Poor elephant. This is shocking and horrific. But this boy was rescued thank goodness. Governments not doing enough to protect our iconic species.

  • Randi Chahidi

    This was a most distressing article to read, as I have been to Tsavo, seen and experienced the elephants, and was greatly moved by their kindly splendor. Many of the comments posted spoke to some fundamental issues like poaching for use in Chinese medicine (of no real medical value). How I wish China as a country , could be fined or sanctions imposed by the U.N. for their contribution to diminishing populations of our animals. But, there are other issues that need to be addressed, as well. These elephants cause great damage to crops and property, making it hard for locals to “want” to protect them. We must find a way to deal with issues where we protect both people and animals. Like several comments stated, our growing population in the world is really the root of so many of the real issues of the conflict of man and nature.

    The real heroes here are those who made the dramatic rescue and risked so much for the one elephant. But we must be willing to to do everything we can as a species to save each and every one we can. Their numbers are precious and decrease as our numbers rise. My heart aches for these magnificent animals and the sorrow they endure over their long lives. We must find a way to save them if we hope to save ourselves.

  • Skip Smith

    Really like the idea of testicle removal for the poachers, but the absence of a nose will be much easier to see. Perhaps leaving them looking a lot like the guy in “Cat Ballou” would work?

  • Asma Hosein

    It is difficult for me to comprehend why the UN is not doing more to impose a ban on ivory products from China. Elephants are wonderful animals
    Keep up the good work Skyvets.
    Regards, Asma.

  • UB

    What’s better than prayers, curses, revenge attacks and (maybe) better than donations? Cutting off the money to the people who buy ivory. Who are they? Chinese middle classes and (last time I checked) American upper classed. China is doubly guilty though, since they use ivory for ‘health’ as well as vanity reasons (although it has no know on medicinal value),

    money makes the world go round, so the only way to stop people playing this game of Russian roulette with our elephants is to cut off the money from the people who are paying someone else to pull the trigger.

    So, If you’re in the US: boycott ivory traders, regardless of their size and source.

    And: If you’re anywhere else on the planet, boycott Chinese businesses! in a recent survey 84% of the ‘new’ Chinese middle classes said that they’d buy ivory as their NEXT purchase. Where are they getting the money to buy it? From US, the Western buyers of all those ‘Made in China’ products. Every penny you spend on those goods is going straight to an elephant-assassin. Please think about that next time you want to buy that cheap Made in China bargain item.

    Some things are worth more than money… and some bargains cost more than you could ever imagine :-/

  • Fiona Purdy

    Why are the Chinese so committed to protecting their Pandas from extinction – but think nothing of what the consequences of their purchases mean to the elephants (and other endangered species) of the world? What is worse is that the ivory is mostly used for TRINKETS!!! Why are World’s governments – especially Africa’s – not protesting & pressuring the Chinese government to crack down on the import of ivory and other endangered animal parts? The world will be a very sad place with out these magnificent creatures. Thank you to all of the people & groups who are saving & fighting for the elephants.

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