The Lamu District was once home to the densest population of wildlife in Kenya and in 1972 boasted the second largest elephant population in Kenya estimated at over 21,000. Yet today the elephant population has plummeted catastrophically to numbering less than 300 individuals.
It is with great sadness to report, that the Lamu District has not escaped the ruthless attacks of ivory poachers, and the elephants that once survived the brutal poaching that took place in the 70s and 80s, which decimated their numbers, are again falling victim to today’s illegal rampant ivory trade.
These last remaining herds and big-tusked prime breeding bulls are fighting to stay alive and survive the ivory war, which is seeing big bulls and juveniles alike wiped-out one by one to feed the demand for ivory in the Far East.
On August 24th the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust deployed DSWT/KWS veterinary officer Dr. Poghon, seconded to the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, to the Lamu District on the DSWT/KWS Sky Vets initiative, following a report from local community members via the Kenya Wildlife Service about a wounded bull elephant straying closer to community land neighbouring Nairobi Ranch, which is believed to be home to approximately 20 elephants. It is known that a group of armed poachers have been operating in the area in the past weeks and this bull was obviously one of their victims having escaped their ambush but sadly carrying significant wounds.
The Lamu Conservation Trust’s security unit was immediately deployed, whilst the Sky Vets team were airborne, landing at Mkunumbi airstrip on Kenya’s remote northern coastline. Both units joined and began the search for the wounded elephant through thick forest and near-impenetrable bush. The search continued for some hours until darkness arrived and the teams were called-off until the following morning.
On August 25th Dr Poghon finally managed to get into a position where the bull was insight and he fired off a tranquilising dart, which hit the target. The bull soon fell to the ground, luckily in a clearing, and the veterinary team got to work. The extent of this beautiful bull’s injuries were soon apparent, much to the anguish of all who had tried so hard find and treat him, knowing he was one of Lamu’s last majestic elephants.
This bull had suffered several bullet-wounds to his front leg and chest as well as a poisoned arrow in his back leg. The bullet wounds had shattered the bone and joint in his left front leg ruling out any possibility of recovery. The difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize him so as to ensure his suffering ended.
The DSWT and LCT are doing everything in their power to give further support to Lamu’s elephants during these worrying times. Anyone can donate to the DSWT’s Sky Vets initiative or to Project Amu managed by the LCT by visiting our website https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/is/donate_now.asp