Miracle in Kenya: The elephant miraculously survived a poacher’s ρoι̇?oп α??ow and was able to run away after being found and treated by a veterinarian.

Vets have saved the life of a young elephant by performing emergency surgery after it was shot with a poison arrow and left to rot to death by poachers.

The four ton bull was targeted in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park by poachers who almost certainly expected to return to the animal and cut of its tusks to sell as ivory when it finally succumbed to the poison and died a slow and painful death several days later.

But thankfully a group of vets found the wounded animal in time and were able to fire an anaesthetising dart into its rump and then perform emergency surgery to remove the arrow, drain the pus and poison, cut away the foul-smelling infected flesh and close the wound using clay.

Miraculously, just minutes after the surgery was completed, the elephant was able to stand up and walk away as if nothing had happened.

Around 35,000 African elephants were killed by poachers last year – the equivalent of one every 15 minutes. If that rate of illegal hunting continues, there will be no African elephants left in the wild by the year 2025.

The deaths come despite massive conservation efforts throughout the continent, including those by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenyan Wildlife Service – both of whom were involved in the successful rescue of this young elephant.

Although efforts to protect the animals are widespread, the illegal hunting of elephants in Kenya has spiked in recent years thanks to soaring demand in China, where ivory is used in jewellery, ornaments and medicine.

Efforts are underway in China to improve public understanding of the brutal ivory trade, after a 2007 survey by the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that staggering 70 per cent of people believed African elephants’ tusks were actually teeth that fell out naturally.


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Shot: After being hit in the side by a poison arrow days earlier, vets were forced to shoot the elephant again – this time with a dart containing anesthetic. This allowed them time to treat the wound – including draining it of pus and cutting away the infected flesh – before the poison ended up killing the four ton bull

Floored: The elephant eventually collapsed in a heap after being shot with the anesthetic. This gave the vets time to work on cleaning the infected wound, which can be seen in the fold of skin underneath its front right leg


Clean: The first thing the three-man team from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenyan Wildlife Service did was bathe the elephant with water to ensure its open wound was clean. The elephant had already lost track of its herd and is likely to have died over the coming days

Fast work: The poison arrowhead is removed from the elephant’s body. After rolling him on to his side, the team had to work quickly and three vets began treating the severe wound. The young bull had been shot in the right side, in the fold of skin beneath its leg

Treatment: Water was continuously poured on to the wound as vets worked to drain it of poison and clean the infected tissue, which was giving off a foul smell

Swelling: The vets cut a hole in the huge abscess in order to drain it of poison. The substance enters the bloodstream, slowly destroying the flesh and weakening the animal. Poachers will track and follow the elephant, before hacking of its tusks when it is dead or nearly dead

Grisly: Vets push down on the huge abscess to drain it of pus and poison. The foul-smelling wound had started to rot and the poison was beginning to spread throughout the animal’s body. Poachers would have almost certainly returned to cut off the elephant’s tusks after tracking it and waiting for it to die over the coming days

Surgery: After draining the wound of poison, a large amount of infected muscle had to be cut from the elephant’s body in order to stop the poison spreading any further. The elephant is thought to have been only days from death when the vets found him

Pain: The 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 as the poison spreads throughout their bodies and gradually kills off muscle tissue

Sealed: After cleaning the wound and cutting away the infected flesh, the injury was packed with green clay to form a kind of plaster. Around 35,000 African elephants were killed by poachers last year – the equivalent of one every 15 minutes. If that rate of illegal hunting continues, there will be no African elephants left in the wild by 2025

Recovery: Within minutes of regaining consciousness after the anesthetic wore off, the elephant climbed to his feet as if nothing had happened. The vets remained on hand in case of complications, but the animal happily wandered off back into Kenya’s Tsavo National Park


Back to the wild: Rob Brandford, a director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said: ‘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 targeted by poachers trying to satisfy an insatiable appetite for ivory in China