On October 23, Honeyguide-supported rangers with the Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) received a call from a tourist lodge about a baby elephant seemingly stuck to a tree. Immediately reporting to the scene, the highly-trained crew discovered that a female elephant, approximately 2-3 years old, had her back left foot caught in a wire snare. The baby’s mother stood anxious but still unwavering by her side.
As supported by Honeyguide’s head of anti-poaching, John Magembe, the 12-man WMA team guarded and monitored the distressed mother and daughter through afternoon and overnight until a backup team of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) rangers and specialists could arrive.
The following morning, TANAPA veterinarian, Dr. Morris Kilewo, darted both pachyderms so they would sleep, and the joint ranger team helped free the baby from the snare. After treating the young female for relatively minor wounds, the ace wilderness doctor gave the elephants medication to rouse them. Soon enough, mother and daughter awoke and lumbered on their way into the wooded savannah.
“It was a small operation, but it makes you feel good that we all saved two elephants for the day,” said Magembe. “Rangers from the WMA and TANAPA worked well together, and the mother and baby can go on about their lives.”
Magembe went on to explain that poachers often use such snares to catch antelope and other wildlife for bush meat. In this case, a baby elephant became ensnared by accident. The mother might have also become a standing target for elephant poachers or other dangers had the situation not been wisely reported by the nearby Osupuko Lodge to the WMA rangers, who guarded the elephants for some 18 hours through the night. TANAPA and their vet also deserve high praise for their critical role in the rescue mission. All in all, the operation reflected positive collaboration among a number of stakeholders to ensure the protection of wildlife.
Through the generous support of the US-based Big Life Foundation, Honeyguide has funded, trained, and worked alongside rangers in Burunge since January of this year. The Burunge WMA serves as a key wildlife corridor between Tarangire National Park and Manyara National Park.