The elephant would have died had it not been for the rescuers' timely intervention.
Trigger Warning: Animal cruelty
A wildlife rescue team saved an elephant from certain death after they spotted her with a hunter's snare attached to its leg. Martha, the elephant, was found with a looped piece of wire wound tightly around her leg as she roamed around the plains in Zimbabwe with her calf. When the owner spotted the elephant struggling to walk, they called Catherine Norton, a 58-year-old conservationist, to the Musango Island Safari Camp. Speaking about her team's efforts to help the animal, Norton said, according to Daily Mail: "There was a wire snare digging deep into her left front leg, crippling her and causing severe pain. We had to clean the wound as it was infected, give her antibiotics and remove the snare with wire cutters. It only took her a few minutes to come around but the outcome could have been so much worse."
Mother elephant caught in a snare set by cruel poachers is rescued after being found limping in agony with a festering foot wound in Zimbabwe. Great job! 👏🏼👍🏼https://t.co/75ZY8DdQO0— Xpose Trophy Hunting (@XposeTrophyHunt) December 3, 2020
In the process, the team saved two lives. One was Martha, and the other was that of her calf who would have succumbed eventually because it was so dependent on her. "It shows how much damage can be done to an innocent animal with just one piece of wire," Norton added, stating that a poacher can set up around twenty snares in a day. Expressing her disdain towards the heinous act, she continued: "Poaching isn't just about shooting and axes. This method is just as cruel and equally deadly." Typically, wire snares that were found on Martha's leg are used to trap smaller animals around their neck, but there are times such as these where elephants and rhinos end up stepping into them.
Snaring is one of the techniques used by hunters and poachers to trap or kill animals and is a major reason behind Africa's rapid loss of wildlife, according to David Mills, a researcher studying African golden cats in Kibale with the Wildlife Conservation Society-Uganda. "Snares are the most insidious of hunting methods currently used in Africa. Coupled with the breakdown of hunting traditions and taboos and exploding populations of hunters, they have contributed to the collapse of wildlife populations in many parts of Africa," he told The Guardian. According to Jessica Hartel, the director of the Kibale Snare Removal Program, snares are the "landmines of the forest". "Like landmines, snares do not discriminate, are virtually undetectable, and can cause irreversible permanent physical damage within a split second. Like landmines, snares are unforgiving death traps that cause pain, suffering, and mutilation. Like landmines, snares are detonated automatically by way of pressure from the animals stepping into or through it."
It takes an army of good people and resources to protect these beautiful animals from a few nasty people ..for many species its a losing battle 😖— Dave Friedberg (@friedberg_dave) December 4, 2020
Lilongwe wildlife trust notes that snares are often set up along game trails and near watering holes. According to them, "a snare is a long piece of wire with a loop at the end and is attached to a stationary object, such as a large tree or log. The loop of wire is suspended from a branch or small tree and the snare catches an animal by the neck as it is walking along the trail." When the animal panics and moves forward, the snare tightens, trapping the animal, and possibly, killing them. In another similar story from 2018, a lion was caught by a snare in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. The animal as it turns out was Naturinda - a lioness the wildlife reserve officials knew very well.
"The noose-like wire had worn away Naturinda’s fur and skin, leaving a gaping neck and facial wound that had begun to fester with maggots," reported National Geographic. "Protruding pelvic bones and skeletal ribs indicated that she had been trapped for some days." But, luckily for her, she managed to survive and fully recover after the medics intervened.
So pleased she was rescued but snares are vile instruments of torture and death!!— 🏴 Mo Shone 🏴 (@TaylorShone) December 4, 2020