Elephant with snare

Sabi Sand | November 2018

One of the best feelings working in the bush is to be part of a conservation effort to save an animal! A few weeks ago Emmanuel and I guided a family from India that stayed at Singita Ebony Lodge. They were excited to experience the vast wildlife of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and, in particular, the birdlife of the region.

After spending some quality time with a male leopard finishing off his warthog kill in a weeping boer-bean tree, we made our way to a waterhole in the south-eastern section of the reserve. It was here that we watched a little sparrow-hawk attempting to hunt a flock of white-winged widowbirds. Our attention was later drawn to a herd of elephants making a slow approach to the waterhole for a late afternoon drink.

Our vehicle was soon surrounded by the herd and this is when I noticed a distinct line around a young cow’s back left leg. I picked up my binoculars to get a closer look and saw that the distinct line was in fact a wire snare tightly secured around the pachyderm’s leg! I immediately got Emmanuel to take a look and asked our guests to get a photograph of the animal. I then called our habitat manager over the radio and reported the animal’s condition, size of the herd and the direction they were moving in.

The next day during safari, Sabi Sand Wildtuin (Reserve Authorities) and our habitat manager were out looking for the elephants. After our safari I heard that the individual and its herd had been found and that the vet was on route to the reserve to remove the snare. I made my way to the area and arrived in time to be part of the snare removal procedure.

The vet darted the elephant, it went down and we were able to remove the snare. Luckily the snare didn’t cut into the animal’s leg so no other drugs were administered to help heal the leg. The reverse drug was administered next and the elephant woke up slowly and moved back towards her herd. Great effort by our field guiding team, habitat team and vets in saving this magnificent creature!