Guardians of Giants: Safeguarding Bull Elephants’ Resilience and Vitality

In a remarkable endeavor to safeguard the health of a mature male elephant, conservationists are focusing on providing essential medical care to these towering beings.

Despite their imposing stature and sweeping tusks, these majestic creatures often conceal a surprising vulnerability, making them vulnerable targets merely due to their immense size.

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Over the ensuing days and weeks, the SWT Aerial Unit diligently tracked the patient’s recovery, ensuring a seamless trajectory.

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Managing large animals like elephants demands specialized attention, particularly since they cannot be sedated again until the effects of the initial anesthesia have entirely dissipated.

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Consequently, a waiting period of several weeks is typically required before any follow-up treatment can be administered.

The team efficiently scheduled the second round of treatment just 18 days after the initial operation.

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Formidable challenges were anticipated, considering the elephant’s significant size and weakened state.

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There was a high probability that he wouldn’t have the strength to rise unassisted post-treatment, necessitating preparations for additional support, including deploying machinery like a backhoe and crane truck.

Here’s a breakdown of the meticulous pre-treatment preparations, highlighting the coordination required for such an operation:

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  1. Obtain transport permits for the backhoe.
  2. Coordinate the pickup of the SWT/KWS Mount Kenya Mobile Vet Unit via the SWT aircraft at Kaluku.
  3. Fuel and prepare the backhoe, crane truck, and low-bed truck, along with their respective drivers.
  4. Ensure road conditions are suitable for the low-bed truck’s journey.
  5. Departure of the low-bed/backhoe and crane truck from Kaluku Field Headquarters at 3:00 am.
  6. The Kaluku ground team sets out at 5:00 am, embarking on a six-hour road journey.
  7. Galana team and SWT/KWS Kulalu 2 Anti-Poaching Team mobilize for ground support.
  8. The team assembles near the treatment site to discuss plans and assess the feasibility of off-road travel for the crane truck.
  9. If conditions allow, the SWT helicopter transports the SWT/KWS Mount Kenya Mobile Vet Unit to the treatment location.
  10. An alternative plan is prepared in case off-road travel is not feasible.
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Thankfully, the treatment proceeded smoothly, reaching step nine without any issues. Dr. Poghon tranquilized the bull from the air, causing it to fall asleep in an open area.

After cleaning the wound and administering medications, the revival drug was given to awaken the bull.

Tension filled the air as everyone focused on the bull, apprehensive about his ability to stand up independently.

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Ropes were swiftly secured around his tusks, and machinery was on standby for assistance. Fortunately, luck was on their side as the bull regained his balance and stood tall without aid.

Despite the optimism surrounding his recovery, there remains a chance that the bull may not fully recover, a prospect deeply saddening considering the threats these magnificent creatures face.

Nonetheless, every effort has been made to give him the best chance of survival, with further treatment planned if deemed suitable and feasible. Meanwhile, both ground and aerial teams will vigilantly monitor his progress in recovery.

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