Original story from Zimbabwe news now May 31 2016. Image source : Bumi Hills Foundation.
KARIBA: A bull elephant with a septic shoulder wound limped right up to a safari lodge on Lake Kariba and stayed there until a wildlife vet was able to dart and treat him.
Was he asking for help? Staff at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge can’t be 100% sure although it does look very much like it.
The story of Ben the elephant – who did not succumb to what was probably a poacher’s bullet – is a tiny ray of hope amid a gloomy catalogue of ivory poachings in Zimbabwe in recent months.
Nick Milne, the trust manager at the Bumi Hills Foundation, told News24 that the bull elephant, estimated to be at least 30 years old, made his way up a steep ridge to the lodge’s staff houses on Saturday morning.
He was limping, had two bullet holes in his ear and a septic wound on his left side.
“Logic would suggest that if an animal has an injury that considerably hampers its mobility, it would not attempt the climb and would rather stay on the level ground near water,” Milne said.
Normally the lodge’s own conservation manager is able to dart and treat injured wild animals. But he was away on business. Worried staff called for a wildlife vet to fly up from Harare, a distance of more than 300km.
Six hours later when the vet arrived and was ready to treat him, the elephant hadn’t moved further than a few metres from the houses.
Said Milne: “The dart went into his rump perfectly and he only moved off a short distance in the seven minutes before he went down. He also landed perfectly on his haunches with his right side up a slope, the perfect position considering we needed to work on his left side.”
The vet and workers managed to clean and disinfect his wound, look for a bullet and administer antibiotics and fly-repellent, all in a little over an hour. A tracking collar was also fitted.