This is the touching moment when vets came to the aid of an elephant calf that had become trapped in a snare laid by poachers in Kenya.
Video footage shows the baby elephant struggling to free its ankle from the tight loop of rope that bound it to a stake in the ground in a remote area of the Tana River in the Ndera Community Conservancy.
Dr. Poghon and his team from the KWS/SWT Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, flew to the remote area by helicopter before cutting the elephant calf free, so that it could be reunited with its mother.
The clip begins with the group of vets taking off as they track down the elephant calf, whose mother had been spotted helplessly watching from around 50 yards away.
Upon arrival, the vets used a dart filled with an anesthetic to subdue the distressed animal. As the calf slumped to the ground, the vets moved in to assess its injuries. They swiftly cut the rope off and sprayed the wound on the elephant’s ankle and ear with blue antiseptic spray.
After the team successfully freed the elephant, it woke up and happily bounded off into a nearby thicket of trees.
Amie Alden, from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, described snares laid by poachers as an ‘incredibly cruel threat to wildlife’. Speaking about the rescue mission, she added: ‘Our Airwing is poised for situations like these, so the helicopter flew Dr. Poghon to the scene, where the mother stood watching her baby around 50 meters away. It remained a very real possibility that the mother and another nearby adult elephant would move in, so our pilot circled overhead to monitor the situation and protect the ground team.
Video footage shows the vets firing a dart filled with anesthetic at the calf, which falls to the ground, and the team rushes in to begin freeing it.
Dr. Poghon and his team from the KWS/SWT Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, cut the elephant free from the rope snare.
‘Once the baby succumbed to the anesthetic, the rope snare was easily cut away, and fortunately, we were able to help spare this baby from a tragic end,’ said Alden. ‘The team was left feeling a sense of accomplishment and was thankful to be in a position to right such wrongs.’
Snares are usually set to catch smaller animals like impala to feed the appetite for bushmeat, but large animals like elephants and rhinos can sometimes step into them.
After the vets successfully freed the elephant, it woke up (pictured) and happily bounded off into a nearby thicket of trees.
In December 2020, a quick-thinking wildlife rescue team saved an elephant’s life after it was spotted with a hunter’s snare attached to its leg in Zimbabwe. The elephant, known as Martha, was seen with the looped piece of wire tightly cutting into her leg as she wandered the plains with her calf. Catherine Norton, 58, a conservationist living in the country, was called to the Musango Island Safari Camp after the owner spotted Martha struggling to walk. Norton said she and her team had to immobilize the elephant, saying the creature would have surely died without intervention.
Kenya has cracked down on illegal poaching as it attempts to conserve vital wildlife, a move that has seen elephant populations begin to rise again.