The Tragedy of "Burra", Orphaned by the Despicable Bushmeat Trade
Animal Stories from
Submitted by Maureen Adams in the hope of ending animal exploitation

There is a migration route, that the elephants have used down millennia, linking the population of Tsavo West to that of Tsavo East National Park, which now passes through dense human settlement and a tribe that has long been prone to setting wire snares to capture whoever passes, caught in a noose around the leg, the neck, the trunk, or whatever part of the body triggers the loop knot concealed on a game path.


Countless of thousands of wild animals perish annually, cruelly and in unspeakable agony due to this extremely brutal form of "hunting". Unhappily, today, the bushmeat trade is no longer simply a subsistence practice, but is commercial, tons of meat from the victims of this cruel practice being transported on huge lorries, tankers and even trains beneath bags of charcoal. It fuels the "Jua-kali" butcheries countrywide and even on a regional basis, and it is cheaper than the meat of domestic animals, because it is there for the taking. (In the photo to the above the cable snare is being removed from Burra's neck.)


No one owns the wild game, except, perhaps, the Almighty, and those of us who care deeply for the other creatures that by misfortune happen to share the world with us, hope that somehow, somewhere, some day just retribution will be visited on the human race for their crimes against the Animal Kingdom. Anyone who witnesses the suffering of little "Burra", will, I think, endorse this fact.  (To enlarge the photo of Burra the day he arrived at the sanctuary, click on the photo.  Note the severe wounds caused by the cable snare.)


He was caught in a thick steel cable around the neck and behind one ear. The cable bit deep into the tender flesh around his throat, behind the back of his neck, trapping one ear, the noose tightening as his mother pulled him free, leaving him almost throttled, unable to lift his head, unable to feed, but still desperate to, somehow, try and live.  (In the photo to the above, one of Burra rescuers is holding the cable snare that was around his neck.)

His family were en route through the human habitation, desperate to meet up with others in the sanctity of Tsavo East National Park. They never made it, because they were driven back by Helicopter and gunshots, and this eight month old calf was, by now, too weak to keep abreast of his terrified, fleeing family. He fell behind, and it was clear that he had a problem, so those in the Helicopter landed, captured him, and saw the extent of the problem, and the reason for it - a snare that had almost severed three quarters of his ear, cut the back of his neck, and his throat, inhibiting his feeding. He was emaciated, starving and weakened by the time he was found.


The snare was removed, though not without difficulty, (and a great deal of pain), and he was taken to the Sheldrick Trust Orphans' Night Stockades in Tsavo East National Park, where some 25 other orphans, each with a tragic story to tell, are currently growing up and in the process of being rehabilitated back into the wild elephant community of Tsavo East, many having lost their elephant family as newborns, hand-reared in infancy having past through the Nairobi Nursery. (To enlarge the photo of Burra, click on the photo.)

It so happened that two Nursery elephants were being transferred to join the others that had preceded them on that day, and little Burra (named after where he was found) was brought in. He was fearful, aggressive and in desperate straits; refused all milk, but tried to eat some vegetation. The next day he returned to the Nairobi Nursery in the lorry that had taken Mulika and Nasalot down, arriving in a very feeble condition, with wounds that left all onlookers almost in tears. The Vet greeted him, gave him an injection for shock and a 48 hour painkiller, but could do no more, fearful that additional trauma might just tip the balance.


He slept that night, with two Keepers beside him. Whenever he awoke he was gentled and offered milk, but rejected it. We feared that he could not swallow due to damage caused by the constriction of the cable, but he ate a few soft leaves, so all was not lost. However, we knew that at 8 months he needed milk, and needed it instantly, if he was going to live.


In the morning his wounds were syringed out with Calendula and Saline Water, and then packed with antibiotic powder. And 5 hours later, after patient pleading, he took his milk, sucked a Keeper's finger, and asked for more. We celebrated, because now, we knew, he had a chance. Little "Burra's" story has only just begun, but today, the 30th January 2002, we think he has a chance, although he will grow up to be a Bull with only one ear, and as such always recognisable, and if he lives, a living tribute to those that rescued him and nursed him back to health. (To enlarge the photo of Burra, click on the photo.)

Today we pray for his poor mother, who will be grieving having lost her baby.

[Maureen's note: I've been studying the Sheldrick site and have found numerous accounts of babies left orphaned as a result of illegal ivory poaching. In the other photos I sent to you, the aftermath of the brutality is clear. However, in these photos, the calves' incidental survival of the attacks are simply a result of their possessing nothing of monetary value, otherwise their stories would be read much like those of their adult family members. Their young and innocent eyes witnessed, the vicious execution and mutilation of their families, having been gunned down for the sole purpose of profit in the ivory and bushmeat markets. The individual stories of these surviving babies and their struggle to adapt without their families is in my opinion, the result of human exploitation in it's purest form.]

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