Dramatic Elephant Rescue: A Glimpse into the Challenges of African Wildlife Conservation

Africa’s precious wildlife is under constant threat, and the dedicated efforts of numerous organizations are indispensable in ensuring the survival of these magnificent creatures.

A recent high-stakes emergency rescue operation highlights the commitment and hurdles in safeguarding elephants.

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Wildlife Works recently encountered a distressed elephant calf, which prompted them to seek assistance from the Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit (AMVU).


The calf had suffered a severe leg injury caused by a tight cable snare wrapped around its forelimb. The situation was dire, requiring swift action to save the young elephant.

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Collaborating with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Wildlife Works Rangers, the AMVU initiated an immobilization, examination, and treatment procedure. To locate the calf, a gyrocopter was deployed near a dam site.

While KWS and Wildlife Works Rangers scouted the area, a helicopter ensured no other elephant herds were within a 100-meter radius.


After darting the elephant from a vehicle, the team achieved standing sedation within 15 minutes, using 50mg of Azaperone.

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Despite their best efforts to assist the calf in walking, its strength and resistance made it challenging to remove the snare wire.

Consequently, the decision was made to chemically immobilize the elephant using 2mg of Etorphine, followed by 10mg of Azaperone after a two-hour interval.


Carefully, the snare was removed using a wire cutter, and the calf received essential treatment. To prevent infection, it was administered with 30ml of Amoxicillin (Betamox LA®) through an intramuscular route.

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Due to the severity of its condition, the calf was recommended for rescue and remained under anesthesia.

The anesthesia was intermittently maintained with 1mg of Etorphine throughout the four-and-a-half-hour air rescue operation.


Despite the unwavering efforts of the team, the calf’s prognosis remained bleak. Tragically, the calf succumbed to anesthetic complications during its transport to a rescue center.

Post-mortem findings revealed pale to white mucous membranes, indicating possible anemia.

Concerns were raised due to the presence of straw-like fluid in the peritoneum and an enlarged liver, often associated with liver issues that might have compromised drug metabolism and elimination.


This rescue operation is a stark reminder of the formidable challenges in conserving Africa’s wildlife.

The collaborative spirit among organizations and individuals dedicated to wildlife preservation remains crucial in the ongoing battle to protect these awe-inspiring animals.

Special acknowledgments go to Dr. Kariuki Edward and the organizations that supported and funded this vital mission, including the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS),


Wildlife Works, Elephant Aware, Galana Kulalu Ranch, Big Life Foundation, and all the rangers involved in reporting and monitoring distressed wild animals.

Their unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation in Kenya is commendable.

Read more Elephant News.