Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Baby elephant rescued after falling into drain

Things turned a little hairy last Tuesday, when an elephant calf became trapped in what has been called a holding dam of the Phalaborwa Copper mine in Limpopo, South Africa, although from the video it looks more like a drain. According to a post on the Elephant Alive Facebook page, mine workers Johan Bezuidenhout and Quenton du Plessis came to the little elephant's rescue. It is believed the severe drought in the area must have forced the elephant herd to come and drink from water at the dam.

After the elephant was freed Wildlife Supervisor, Johan McDonald and his team said they tried unsuccessfully to reintroduce him twice to the closest elephant breeding herds. The elephant has since been name Amanzi, meaning Zulu for water. McDonald and his team then loaded the elephant onto a truck, noticing that the little calf began looking weak and was in need of rehydration. "We raced him to the nearest facility (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre) with an experienced veterinarian (Dr Peter Rodgers) to treat Amanzi symptomatically. We are keeping a very close eye on his progress and will keep you updated. His fascination with water is the reason for his name and he has retained it despite his ordeal."

YouTube link. Facebook video.

It was at this point that Elephants Alive Programme Manager, Dr Michelle Henley and his team were called in to assist. "The traumatised young elephant was doused with water to keep him cool and covered with wet blankets on a mattress. He remained in physical contact with Dr Henley during the high speed drive to a holding stable at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), " reports Mike Kendrick for the Conservation Action Trust. On arrival at HESC, "the calf was unloaded and guided towards an open stable door with great care and once inside it continued to totter about and bellow for its mother", Henley explained. It was at this point that the full extent of the little elephant's injuries had become clear.

Henley confirmed the animal was visibly traumatised and in fact had bruised areas over each eye, "injuries incurred while trapped in the dam". The HESC team first attempted to feed the baby elephant, who had since been named Amanzi meaning Zulu for water, some fluids from a bottle to combat its obvious exhaustion - thereafter it was placed on a saline drip in order to administer antibiotics as well as to further rehydrate it. Elephant calves are notoriously difficult to rear requiring precise nutrients in their milk, with the HESC rotating duties with elephant handlers, combating the likelihood of the young elephant becoming attached to any one person. "His future is by no means certain but once again the Elephants Alive team have done all they can to support one of these incredible animals," said McDonald. "They will be checking up on Amanzi regularly and exploring potential sources of milk formula to assist his recovery,"he said.

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