A Successful Mission: Relocating a Troublesome Bull to Ensure Harmony

In a monumental effort on June 7th, a dedicated team undertook a challenging operation to relocate a troublesome bull. The mission’s primary goal was to transport the bull deep into Tsavo, alleviating both the local community and the bull from the imminent conflict that loomed.

Kenya faces a pervasive issue of human-wildlife conflict, exacerbated by the current drought conditions forcing animals to forage beyond their usual territories. Elephants, known for their hearty appetites, often find themselves in conflict with communities when searching for food. While fences are effective deterrents, this particular bull proved to be a determined exception.

Residing on the northern edge of Tsavo West, the bull, during his daytime sojourns within the park, developed a habit of breaking through the boundary fence at night, causing havoc in neighboring farms. Recognizing the threat to both livelihoods and lives, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) deemed relocation as the necessary intervention. The operation was overseen by Dr. Poghon, Head of the KWS Capture Unit, and Dr. Limo, Head of the SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit.

At the break of dawn, a specially equipped crane truck set out toward the bull’s location, while the SWT/KWS Anti-Poaching Team collaborated with the community to pinpoint his whereabouts. Aerial surveillance by a fixed-wing pilot revealed the breached fence, and after an extensive search, the distinctive one-tusked bull was located.

Upon reporting the bull’s coordinates, a helicopter transported Dr. Poghon, Dr. Limo, and team members from Save the Elephants to the scene. Save the Elephants would play a crucial role in fitting the bull with a radio collar for monitoring purposes. Once the ground teams were in position, Dr. Poghon darted the bull from the helicopter, and the process of carefully lifting and securing him for transport commenced.

Moving such a large patient required meticulous planning, considering veterinary expertise and practical considerations like positioning the elephant’s legs. The journey to Tsavo East ensued, closely monitored by Dr. Poghon and Dr. Limo to ensure the bull’s well-being.

Upon reaching a remote area near the Galana River in Tsavo East, the bull, now fitted with a radio collar, was gently lifted off the truck. As the anaesthetic wore off, he groggily rose to his feet and, after a brief survey of his surroundings, ventured into the wilderness to explore his new habitat.

This operation, conducted in collaboration with KWS, Save the Elephants, and the local community, showcased an innovative solution to the complex issue of human-wildlife conflict. The successful relocation ensures that the community can now live without the threat of the unwelcome nightly visitor, while the bull roams safely in an area where his presence poses no risk to anyone

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