Left to rot from the insides: Poachers use poison arrow to kill elephant for his tusks (Kenya)


Jane Wharton, Express

Date Published
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Vets had to act fast to save the young bull’s life after the horrific wound began to slowly kill him. 

The youngster is the latest to fall victim to poachers targeting animals for their prized ivory. 

The world’s elephant population is estimated to have dropped from 1.3 million in 1979 to 400,000 today. 

This stricken elephant was discovered in Kenya and his wound meant that he was struggling to keep up with his herd. 

He was tranquillised by medics from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenyan Wildlife Service who then cut open a huge abscess on the elephant’s side that discharged a mixture of puss and sand.

A large piece of dead muscle was also removed from the stricken animal.

Rob Brandford, a director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said: “A dart was fired at the base of the bull’s tail but the team had to retreat as a larger bull came by.

“After rolling him on to his side, the team had to work quickly and three vets began treating the severe wound which was giving off a putrid smell.

“After cutting a hole in the huge abscess and removing dead muscle, the vets cleaned the wound and removed the arrow which had caused the elephant so much suffering.

“Water was continuously poured on to the wound which was then packed with green clay before he was brought around.

“He regained consciousness and two minutes later was standing on his feet – luckily this young bull will live to see another day.” 

Last year the trust saved the lives of 188 elephants, most of which had been cruelly targeted by poachers trying to satisfy an insatiable appetite for ivory in the Far East.

Mr Brandford added: “Around 35,000 African elephants were killed by poachers last year – the equivalent of one every 15 minutes.

“At this rate there will be no wild elephants on the continent in 2025.

“This elephant was targeted by poachers who used a slow acting but effective poison which could bring about instant death if administered to humans.

“With elephants it takes a lot longer and causes a slow and agonising death.

“Whilst the lethal poison takes effect entering the bloodstream and leaving behind dead neocratic flesh, poachers will track and follow the elephant, before hacking of its tusks when it is dead or nearly dead.” 

But Mr Brandford is heartened by the West’s changing attitudes towards ivory and believes major change is possible in Asia.

“Many organisations are working with Chinese consumers to educate them as to how ivory is obtained,” he added.

“A previous survey found that 70 per cent of consumers thought that tusks simply dropped out like teeth – they don’t know the brutal reality of how it is obtained.

“We just hope that through education an end can be brought to this brutal trade and these magnificent creatures can continue to thrive in the wild.”

As well as elephants, rhinos are also targeted for their ivory. 

A world rhino population of 500,000 at the start of the 20th century has fallen to 29,000, and there are fewer than 3,500 tigers, reduced from 100,000 80 years ago.

The illegal wildlife trade is now the fourth most lucrative international crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking.  It is estimated to be worth between 10 and 20 billion dollars each year.  

As well as animals, rangers protecting the beasts are also targeted. 

Over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the past ten years – two a week.