120802 1 1 Elephant Saved from Deeply Embedded Snare in Rombo
by Richard Bonham

While we wait for the results of the August 6 meeting between the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Maasai leadership in the Amboseli ecosystem, we are still forced to run limited operations on the Kenyan side. 5 of the Kenyan outposts are functioning, but three of the most important ranger outposts protecting a huge area - Il Marba, Esiteti and Osewan - remain frustatingly shuttered. 

Meanwhile, down in Rombo, the outpost on the border of Amboseli and Tsavo, the Big Life rangers rose to the occasion again. Last week, a herder moving his cattle saw an elephant limping badly and informed the Big Life rangers who immediately went to scene. It was obvious that the elephant needed help so they called me and asked for a vet to be sent.

I called Poghorn, the KWS vet, funded by the Sheldrick Trust, based in Tsavo. He answered his phone with the words ''Sorry, can’t take your call, I have an elephant tranquilized and down and removing an arrow, will call back later''. He called back in an hour to say the elephant he had been working on was up and would recover, and what could he do to help. I told him we had a injured elephant that needed treatment, could he come….There was a pause, and he said he had another call out in Tsavo which he had to attend but would be with us the next day.

The rangers were instructed to stay with the elephant, keep him in sight all the time. Sounds easy, but in thick bush keeping an elephant in sight is not so straightforward, especially an injured one, in excruciating pain, that naturally will be bad tempered. But they stayed with it, even through the night, so by next morning Poghorn, after a 6 hour drive from Tsavo, was on the scene.

The darting went smoothly, the elephant went down and the cause of the injured foot was a snare, now cut almost to the bone. So out came the wire cutters, disinfectant and antibiotics administered in industrial quantities, after which the elephant was revived.

The Big Life rangers stayed with him until nightfall, but lost him in the night as he was moving faster now.The next morning, they picked up his tracks and followed them, eventually finding him at a waterhole on the border with Tsavo. There they left him, satisfied their job was was done and another elephant was saved.