Report to Parks Re: Elephant shot and Poacher apprehended
On Saturday 23rd of July I received a call from a private citizen they could not contact anyone else. They had heard gunshots the previous evening and had heard the bullet hit. The Citizen went to investigate and saw evidence of a blood trail and tracks of an elephant dragging its leg. I went to the area and confirmed the blood and spoor of wounded elephant. We followed the tracks and it went east .Ely crossed a main road into the large area between the Zambia and Zimbabwe Border posts. The elephant was dragging a leg and was very easy to track. After 2 hours we found elephant herd and singled out the wounded Ely. We were within 40 meters from them. A middle age female approximately 30 years with decent tusks was feeding. When she tried to move her entire right hind leg almost completely collapsed. With binoculars we saw there was blood trickling down her rear right leg. She had been shot high up on her backside near the spine but I was unable to discern any other detail. We moved back and I attempted to call various wardens with no response. It was now 5:30 pm i am not allowed to euthanize and animal unless I contact a park official as a new policy. At 6:30 pm I received a call from the wardens on duty. I organized to meet them first thing Sunday morning to assist them.
On Sunday 24 early, both Wardens on duty arrived to get me and we went to area. We spent 9 ½ hours tracking the elephant. Unfortunately there were so much movement of other elephants and other game that previous night that we were only unable to follow tracks for a few hours as it had turned into grassland were it was very difficult to discern sign. On that search we found various snares attached to trees. I fund a sub adult Buffalo trapped by the neck with a wire that had been dead for at least a week and had decomposed. We then came across 2 impala heads and skin. These had been freshly butchered that morning. We then decided to go to the BDF camp nearby to seek assistance. He went to the commander whom was very helpful.
On taking the BDF to see the impala carcasses we managed to find were the poachers had stashed their meat on an anthill. BDF promised to make an ambush that evening as we were sure they would be back for the meat. We then left the area. I am not a young man and I am very sore in the muscles and have calluses on my feet from walking all day.
On Monday 26th the wardens came to get me and we went to BDF camp. They had managed to capture one poacher the night before at the ambush. It appears to be a local that worked at the ferry. He was arrested and given to the Police. With a few BDF soldiers we went back to area to see if we could find the wounded elephant. After 2 hours with no success of finding spoor or vultures we gave up. We found and removed more than 20 snares in less than an hour after that. I hope that this individual captured gets the appropriate punishment and that he reveals his accomplices. In the past all poachers I have caught have been given a paltry fine and released.
It’s very sad for the wounded elephant shot in the backside that is going to suffer for a week or 2 as that wound gets infected and she will die a slow painful death. It would have saved a lot of time and man-hours expended in the next few days if I was able to euthanize it. I hope that in the next week as it gets sicker that it does not endanger and innocent passerby in its rage and pain.
I suggested that a large patrol of officers scours that area for snares.