There had been reports from several quarters that an elephant with a limp had been sighted around the Reserve. None of the team had come across it however and even the vets had been unsuccessful when they came to search for him.
It was not until a few days later that we got a call from Elephant Watch saying he was beside their camp. We headed over there in the late afternoon with the vet to investigate. Sure enough there was a small male calf with what appeared to be a bullet wound in one of his front legs. The team sprang into action and the youngster was darted. Unfortunately the bush around Elephant Watch camp is very thick and the frightened calf took advantage of this to hide from us.
We guessed that the elephant was around 5 years old, so still very small, and sadly he was alone without his family. This meant we were unable to identify him. It is likely that he was left behind by his family as he was unable to keep up due to his injury. He is still too young to be living independently of his family but happily he was not completely alone as he seemed to be sticking close to two large bulls.
It took some brave rangers to head on foot into the undergrowth to chase the poor boy out of the bushes, where he soon collapsed in front of the vehicle. It was a quick operation. The only tricky part was rolling him over so that the vets could reach the wound more easily. Even at 4/5 years old it still took more than 10 men to roll him! However thanks to the readiness of the Elephant Watch team he was quickly moved and his wound was cleaned. We hope that this will be an easy recovery now that he has had some antibiotics and the bullet has been removed.
We will never know the reason that he was shot. However it is worrying as it may indicate that poachers are becoming even more indiscriminate in their killing and will shoot very young individuals even for their tiny ivory.