The elephant named Tom is no stranger to the soft pop of a dart gun. One year ago this big bull was darted and treated for cancerous growths on his scrotum. Today he was darted again, but this time for something altogether unnatural – a spear wound.
After first seeing that Tom was in trouble, rangers and staff from Great Plains Conservation set up watch at the local waterhole. Tom was visiting routinely and the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was quick to provide assistance, flying a Kenya Wildlife Service vet into the area yesterday evening.
The wait began, but Tom didn’t turn up for his usual evening drink. We were worried that he might have left the area, so it was a huge relief when he turned up this morning.
The operation got off to a bad start when Tom fell badly after the dart went in, but the team managed to pull him onto his side with a vehicle. The vet then cleaned the infected wound and Tom recovered from the anaesthetic without trouble.
It’s almost certain that this spearing is the result of the on-going conflict between farmers and elephants raiding their crops. Big Life has ranger teams that operate day and night to assist communities in dealing with elephants, and were it not for their tireless work we would undoubtedly be treating many more injuries like this.