- Posted by Nelson Tumwesigye
- On September 29, 2014
- 0 Comments
With the worrying trend of elephant kills for their ivory to feed the ever thirst –for –ivory markets in Asia and particularly China, the fate of Africa’s iconic creatures lie in dilemma. The Asia illegal markets for ivory continue to haunt the lives of Africa’s gentle giants with the few remaining in the African a savanna. The Chinese and other Asians believe ivory as a symbol of wealth as well as medicine hence evoking a high demand for ivory that can only be got after a giant is put down.
This year, Hong Kong burnt several million tones of ivory in a bid to detach itself from this illegal trade and asked fellow Asian countries to follow suit to help save the few remaining elephants on the African continent.
At the beginning of June this year, a great and legendary tusker in Tsavo national park was sent to meet its ancestors in the world unknown by the greedy poachers who went away with his tusks. Satao was reported dead by the aerial surveillance team after it had gone missing for some days. It should be noted that Satao had survived a severe injury after he had been attacked by poachers earlier in April thanks to the conservation agencies that discovered him struggling with wounds and was treated well in time. This time in June, Satao was not lucky again and was only discovered days after his demise.
However, this sparked off debates and suspicion as to whether the Kenya wildlife service rangers do not connive with the poachers for such incidences. It was quite unclear how the 50 year old Satao who had a 24/7 aerial surveillance could have been killed and the authorities take long to notice. The Kenyan citizens and the world at large mourned the demise of the oldest elephant on the planet but all was in vein and the evil that claimed his life seem not to be satisfied.
On the 15th September this year (2014), another great icon was rescued in Tsavo national park after the Spotted from the air by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Aerial Surveillance Team. When the DSWT Pilot Neville Sheldrick saw the bull struggling to keep pace with other comrades as they were walking in the park, he recognized a swelling on one of the bull’s hind legs which confirmed to him that the elephant had been hit by a poison arrow. He immediately reported the case to the DSWT Field Headquarters and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Veterinarian Dr. Poghon who mobilized others and rushed for its rescue. With the help of a chopper, Pogon arrived earlier than the ground team and started off with the treatment by darting the elephant from the air with a high dose of anaesthetic.
Poghon used the chopper to send away the other bulls that were waiting in wonder for their struggling comrade to gain momentum and join them. Meanwhile, the team from DSWT/KWS Tsavo Vet Unit arrived to give a helping hand to Dr. Poghon. A large amount of dead tissue was cut away from the wound and Dr. Poghon was soon battling against the clock as the first rains of the season chose to arrive at this moment, bringing behind them a thunderstorm. Concerned that the large bull elephant might struggle to safely gain his footing on the increasingly muddy ground, Poghon worked rapidly in cleaning the wound, administering a long acting anti-biotic and finally packing the wound with green clay. The reversal anaesthetic drug was then given to the bull elephant.
The team worked professionally and within a few hours, the elephant was able to get back to its feet again and joined its comrades which were waiting in a close range.
A call to the end of this illegal ivory trade is still being sounded for all the stake holders to rise up and mount their efforts to completely stamp out this ill mannered trade and demand of ivory that is driving the African elephants to extinction.