She Was Speared in the Head But This Elephant is AliveWe know it’s not a nice picture. The injury looks awful, and it is, but quick action yesterday has almost certainly saved the life of this elephant mother, and with it the life of her young calf.

She was spotted on Thursday evening with her calf and four other family members in the Selenkay Conservancy on Eselengei Group Ranch. This is an area where Big Life has recently expanded our presence and programs, thanks in large part to those of you who supported our fund-raising appeal at the end of last year.

As a result, the guide from Gamewatchers Porini alerted the Big Life radio room and a ranger rapid response unit was deployed immediately. The rangers found the family, but it was too dark for further action.

The search resumed early the next morning, and with aerial support from Big Life’s Supercub aircraft the herd was found again. Within two hours the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust-supported Kenya Wildlife Service vet unit had arrived, and managed to dart the female from a helicopter.

Luckily the spear had bent on impact and not penetrated the skull, and the vet was able to remove it without causing any further injury. He cleaned the wound, administered long-lasting antibiotics and painkillers, and packed it with natural clay to assist the healing process. With the anesthetic reversed, the elephant slowly got to her feet and moved off in the direction of the herd.

We can’t say what would have happened without treatment, but the injury could very easily have killed this elephant. Thanks to support from USAID, Big Life has a ranger team on Eselengei that were perfectly placed to respond to the initial report from a local tourism partner, and track the elephant quickly. From there it was a textbook case operation, highlighting the importance of cooperation, and with big thanks to the SWT-supported KWS vet unit.

We don’t know exactly where and why this elephant was speared, but it is no doubt a result of human-wildlife conflict. In addition to the support provided by community rangers, Big Life is placing significant focus on addressing this important issue. Please read more on our website, and consider supporting us in our work to maintain an ecosystem that can be a home for people and elephants.