Reports have been circulating about an elephant being aggressive toward residents in Yenzi. Rumor was, this elephant had a wound to the side of his head. Unfortunately, both accounts may be true, and I got a call to make some pictures of the elephant when he was spotted entering Yenzi Friday afternoon.
It so happens, this is an elephant we know and have held in awe and admiration for years here in Gamba. He was featured with his companion in “elephant’s dance”, (http://dkortephoto.com/wordpress/?p=1582) posted back on November 5 of 2013. He was a gentle creature, and tolerant of my approaches to photograph him. Mutual respect.
It was sad and frustrating to see this same elephant now inflicted with a terminal wound. From the pictures, it appears that the wound to his head was likely from a shotgun slug. The hole, blasted into his head, oozes his life and spirit, and probably makes him irritable to say the least. But I didn’t see unprovoked aggression. I was able to follow him through camp for almost an hour, at a respectful distance, and with him aware of my presence. If it is truly a bullet wound, the lead ball lodged in his skull may be his death sentence.
I learned tonight that he is scheduled for execution beginning next Tuesday, when, presumable he will be shot until he is dead. Euthanized. Then likely he will be cut to pieces and distributed to the local population so they can savor the success of the hunt. Elephants are known to mourn their dead, to stand vigil for days, then later return to move the bones to a meaningful location. He and his family will not be allowed this respectful end to his life.
Another story, perhaps related, perhaps not. A local poacher was killed near Yenzi last week when he was attacked by an elephant. According to various sources, he had been poaching in the night with two other individuals when, sometime in the early morning, the two companions decided to go home. The poacher continued to hunt in the area of Pointe Dick road, and sometime in the early morning made his final telephone call to plead for help. He had been gored by an elephant. He was found the following day, disembowled and with a tusk-inflicted wound to the heart. A shotgun was found nearby. The local community was saddened by this news. They remembered him as a family man. The local officials added that he was a known elephant “hunter”, and had been “hunting” for years. Family man by day, elephant poacher by night.
I don’t wish a cruel or painful death to any creature, man or beast. But I do believe in karma. How unfortunate, that the elephant will not recover.