Relief as Zim wildlife vets remove snare from elephant calf’s leg (Zimbabwe)



Date Published

Harare – Wildlife veterinarians in Zimbabwe say they have finally managed to locate and treat a tiny elephant calf so badly injured by a snare that it was running on three legs.

Three-month-old “Baby Keith” was first spotted three weeks ago, not too far from Beitbridge in southern Zimbabwe, with a snare around his back left leg.

A first attempt earlier this month by vets from the Aware Trust to locate him failed, as did one on Friday.

But on Saturday, the calf and his “very protective” mother were spotted among the mopane trees from a helicopter, said vet Lisa Marabini.

They were both darted (it would have been too dangerous to try to remove the snare with the mother nearby). Working out in the open, and with the help of a mobile X-ray machine, the snare was removed from the calf’s leg, his wound cleaned and long-lasting antibiotics administered.

The snare was deeply embedded around the calf’s shin bones. Sadly, the wire has caused “substantial damage” to the leg, according to the trust. Baby Keith would always be “a bit deformed”, but youth was on his side, the veterinarians say.

Fought back tears

“His skeleton should be able to remodel enough for him to recover from this ordeal,” Marabini said in a post to Facebook.

With Marabini and the rest of the team, Aware veterinarian Keith Dutlow watched the pair come round after anaesthetic wore off and saw them trot away together into the bush.

“We were happy. Relieved for both his and his mother’s sake that the big expense and effort were not wasted,” he told News24. The weekend mission alone cost US$6 000. The group had earlier put out an appeal for donations.

Dutlow added: “We both had to fight a few tears back, to be honest.”