Wildlife rangers and a vet saved the life of an elephant badly wounded by poachers on an island in Zimbabwe’s northern Lake Kariba, it was reported on Tuesday.
Ivory poachers shot three elephants on the remote island late last month, killing two of the animals and badly wounding a third in her right shoulder, according to the Bumi Hills Anti Poaching Unit.
Locals saw the wounded female and alerted the unit, which summoned a vet from the capital Harare.
The elephant was darted and the bullet in her shoulder located. Her wound was drained of pus and antibiotics administered.
“It was decided to leave the bullet in situ, rather than cutting into deep muscle tissue and compounding the problem,” said an account of the operation posted on the website VictoriaFalls24.com.
The elephant is expected to make a good recovery — though she may always have a slight limp.
No arrests have been reported so far.
Zimbabwe’s elephants are at the centre of a simmering controversy following revelations the state parks authority is capturing baby elephants for sale and export to China and other countries.
President Robert Mugabe’s government says that it needs the money, arguing that the planned sales of “excess” elephants could raise up to US2.4 billion.
But some conservation groups say that it is cruel to separate baby elephants from their herd, and that excess animals should rather be relocated to areas hard-hit by poaching.
Figures recently released show that Zimbabwe may have lost up to 20,000 elephants to poaching in the last few years.