Early July 16 while out on a game drive guests from Richard’s Camp spotted Hugo, Mara Elephant Project’s largest bull collared elephants, with a fresh arrow wound in his side. The call came in to MEP and we immediately dispatched a ranger unit nearby to assess the situation. When the team caught up with Hugo they spotted the arrow shaft protruding from his belly on his right side. By this time the Kenya Wildlife Service vet, Dr. Limo, supported by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mara Mobile Vet Unit had been informed of the injury and advised our ranger team to monitor Hugo until he could arrive.
This gives an interesting perspective from the front to demonstrate just how much the arrow is sticking out of his left side.
The rangers followed Hugo in the meantime, keeping a close eye on the elephant while they waited for Dr. Limo (pictured left) and his team to arrive. During this time rangers, using the Save The Elephants tracking app, replayed Hugo’s movements from the night before. They suspect that the injury was sustained when he strayed close to outlying homesteads near Mararienta. When Dr. Limo arrived, the teams took up their positions and the dart went in and we waited for Hugo to go under anesthesia.
Dr. Limo at work on Hugo.
In all, it took 11 minutes for the big bull to finally collapse; however, he landed awkwardly, and the team had to help him onto his side (which was no small feat) so that the vet could safely access and treat the wound. At this point, it was a team effort. While Dr. Limo was retrieving the barbed arrow head, his team of vets were monitoring Hugo’s breathing and MEP rangers were dousing him in water to keep him cool.
Once the arrow head was removed and the wound treated, Dr. Limo administered the antidote and Hugo successfully got to his feet. It is always the most stressful part of the treatment, particularly with an elephant of Hugo’s age (estimated at 50-60 years) and size, but we didn’t need to worry as Hugo rose to his feet almost effortlessly (pictured right) and turned to give us all a short look as if in thanks before calmly continuing on his way across the plains as if nothing had happened.
Hugo after he’s gotten on his feet with his wound treated.
This is the perfect example of how partnerships across the Mara ecosystem help save elephant lives. Hugo, being a MEP collared elephant, makes him an immediately recognizable, if not, iconic, elephant in the ecosystem that tourist camps often visit. Richard’s Camp, a MEP partner, is aware of the work we’re doing in the Mara to protect elephants and as soon as they saw he was injured, they knew just who to call. Dr. Limo, our partner vet, was available that day to treat Hugo along with MEP rangers who were nearby to monitor Hugo. It was all a perfect situation to ensure that MEP fulfilled its mission to protect elephants and conserve the greater Mara ecosystem.
We’re happy to report that on Friday, July 20, MEP dispatched a ranger patrol unit to go and check on Hugoand he looks to be recovering nicely. (pictured below)