One elephant, a young female named Shinga, died a month after an operation that desperately tried to save her from a trap set by poachers and wrapped around her neck. Unfortunately there was nothing they could do: the trap’s cable had cut the animal’s neck and throat too deeply, reaching as far as the trachea.
It happened in one of the national parks of Zimbabwe, the Charara Safari Area, where poachers are very active. The charity Kariba Animal Welfare Fund Trust, which looks after the welfare of wildlife (and elephants in particular), estimates that it removes an average of fifty traps a month – and the figure refers only to the part of the park where it is operational.
After receiving several reports, the operators of the organization went looking for her and found her trying to find some relief by throwing sand on her neck. The operation seemed to go well. once sedated, the cable was removed from the elephant’s throat and the wound was sanitized; the animal had also been given a large dose of antibiotics. But the damage caused to the trachea was irreparable.
However, this tragic story offers two partial reasons for consolation. The first is that the animal is no longer suffering, after spending terrible months (before the surgery he had been seen throwing sand on his neck to try to soothe the pain). The second is that the number of elephants killed by poachers, according to estimates updated by Cites, is at its lowest since 2003.