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100,000 African elephants have been poached in just three years, which marks a terrible figure in the news these days. And while we actively fight against these wildlife crimes, it is also important to highlight the happy stories we come across.
In fact, one of our new batches of Elephant Gin is named after Jetinder – a young elephant that our partner foundation Big Life was able to save earlier this year.
Born in 1991, Jetinder was named by elephant researchers at the Amboseli Trust for Elephant. On the 16th of March a Big Life ranger unit was operating in our area to the south of Amboseli National Park. They came across a lone bull elephant, walking on only three legs and clearly in distress. The rangers got closer, and discovered a deep wound on his badly swollen fourth limb.
The team immediately called the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) with GPS coordinates of their position, and the response was fantastic. Within hours KWS had a vet on the ground and the elephant was anaesthetised.
Closer inspection of the wound showed that it was most likely inflicted by a spear, but not through a poaching attempt. This was the result of an oft-neglected threat to elephants – human-wildlife conflict. In a resource-constrained land, croplands are an irresistible attraction to wildlife, and elephants can be destructive. People defend their crops in all ways possible, and sometimes this takes the form of sharpened spears.
This was a reminder of the importance of Big Life efforts to manage human-elephant relations in the ecosystem. Their teams respond to reports of crop-raiding wildlife, intervening with non-lethal means. This help is greatly appreciated by the community, and goes a long way to easing the tension between human development and wildlife conservation.
The elephant was treated and successfully revived, but this was only the start. He is a bull in the prime of his life, approximately 40 years old with two stunning and very valuable tusks. The injury made him easy prey for poachers. As a result Big Life deployed two teams to the area that had been tracking him daily until his recovery.
Photo copyright and text: Big Life Foundation