Survivor of the Plains: A Majestic Elephant’s Battle for Healing and Harmony

In the heart of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem, where regal bull elephants roam freely, one remarkable individual caught the attention of Big Life scouts on the morning of November 6, 2020.

This magnificent creature bore the scars of a recent skirmish, with a deep wound on its forehead and an infected injury on its rear leg.

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Alarmed by its condition, the scouts quickly contacted the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) operations room for assistance.

Responding promptly, the SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, based in Voi and led by Dr. Poghon, mobilized for an emergency intervention.

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The situation demanded seamless coordination, with ground teams at Kaluku and an airwing ready for takeoff.

Two Big Life vehicles guarded the injured elephant, ensuring its safety until the SWT/KWS team arrived.

As the helicopter lifted off from Tsavo West’s Park Headquarters in Kamboyo, Dr. Poghon prepared an anesthetic dart for the upcoming aerial rendezvous.

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Flying over Chyulu Hills and Kimana Sanctuary, the team reached the wounded bull, where quick and precise maneuvers ensured a successful tranquilizing dart.

With the bull sedated, the medical team worked diligently to address its injuries. Despite the colossal size of the patient, the team remained attentive to details, even fashioning a makeshift sun shield from a ranger’s hat to protect the exposed eye from the midday sun.

The primary concern was the deep wound on the bull’s forehead caused by a spear thrust. Remarkably, the elephant’s natural defense mechanisms, resembling a honeycomb structure around its brain, prevented the spear from reaching critical areas.

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Another spear wound on the back left leg, indicating an older injury, was also treated for infection.

After thorough cleaning, necessary medications, and careful attention, Dr. Poghon reversed the anesthesia.

The majestic bull rose to its feet and walked away, instilling hope for its recovery.

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Big Life scouts now watch the elephant in a safe region, ready to provide additional care if required.

This poignant incident underscores the ongoing conflict between humans and wildlife. As elephants venture into agricultural lands due to shrinking habitats, conflicts arise.

To secure a future for these majestic animals, it’s imperative to not only aid them in times of injury but also to preserve spaces for wildlife and protect critical habitats.

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Collaborating with the Masai community in Amboseli, we support initiatives like leasing land for the Kimana Corridor and Kimana Sanctuary, emphasizing the broader goal of conserving wildlife habitats.

Our commitment extends to aiding any animal caught in the crossfire of human-wildlife conflict, exemplified by this resilient bull.

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