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Wild elephant rescued after week-long search

Thursday, May 16, 2013, 15:33 GMT+7

A rescue team early this week successfully rescued a wild elephant, who had been stuck in the trap believed set up by poachers, following a week of searching in a jungle in the central highlands province of Dak Lak.

>> A mission to rescue wild elephant

The elephant, whose trunk was seriously hurt by the trap, was subdued by two domesticated elephants, according to an on-the-scene Tuoi Tre correspondent.  

Upon seeing that, Tran Van Thanh, acting director of Yok Don National Park, delightedly said: “Congratulations to all the rescue members for this big happiness.”

Scarred with wounds

After being chased for nearly a week, the elephant, around six years old, seemed to have no strength left. Sometimes, the elephant was filled with terror or behaved aggressively, struggling to escape.

A photo shows that its trunk was nearly cut in half after being caught in the trap. Some rescue members said the animal’s leg got swollen because of vascular necrosis.

Many people were heart-broken when they saw the mammal repeatedly putting up his seriously wounded leg. And when the wild animal stood still, veterinarians approached it and twice injected it with sedatives.

During that process, Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, sent the rescue members words of encouragement through the phone, asking them to save the animal at all costs.

Do Viet Thu, a rescue member, told Tuoi Tre that most forest rangers and veterinarians had no rest in the past days.

All of them did the utmost to find the elephant for fear that if the animal had not been rescued in time, it could have gone to Cambodia and faced death. 

Nguyen Van Hao, a forest ranger at Yok Don National Park, said the searching mission started on May 7, involving experienced forest rangers, mahouts, and domesticated elephants.

During days of searching, the rescue team found dung and footprints believed to be left behind by the elephant but they still failed to find it. Many members wanted to give up. 

“Yesterday afternoon (May 13), they [rescue members] got exhausted and some of them wanted to quit. I told them if they want to quit, just do it and if not stay with me. But no one gave up and continued scouring the jungle,” Hao said.

A thrilling hunt

At 10:45 on May 14, when the team was following the trail of the elephant, they were speechless upon seeing the wild elephant which was throwing an angry look at them. After that, two big domesticated elephants approached it while rescuers stood in a circle to surround the animal. 

“I was extremely happy when I saw it. We should not let it go,” a mahout said. 

“Despite dangers, I stood in front of it. When it rushed towards me, I shouted and at the same time tapped a big piece of wood on the tree trunk nearby to scare it,” he recalled.

It all finished after one hour when a mahout bound a rope around its body. It knelt down and fiercely roared.

“We will do the utmost to save it [the elephant] before releasing it back to the wild,” Thanh said.

The elephant is currently being treated at the Yok Don National Park and is able to eat banana and sugar canes, according to its acting director Tran Van Thanh.

Thanh said the elephant is better, adding doctors have injected it with antibiotics to treat the open wounds on its body. The animal is expected to be anaesthetized for a surgery in the next coming days.

A study by a student at Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) University in 2011 estimated that there were between 83 and 100 wild elephants in 2009 and 82 captive elephants in 2011 in Vietnam.

Tuoi Tre

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