A young elephant almost died after playing with a discarded rubber tyre that then got stuck around his neck threatening to suffocate him.
The huge rubber tyre meant that the elephant living in the province of North West in South Africa was also at a disadvantage in the wild and could more easily have become a victim of predators.
The rescue operation was carried out by vets from the North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism and rangers from the Madikwe Game Reserve who said that they had received several calls about the elephant at the Rietfontein Game Ranch, north of Zeerust.
In a statement released to media, they said: “Our problem animal control officers and support staff were dispatched urgently to try to find the elephant, so as to remove the tyre which undoubtedly was causing a lot of discomfort.”
The statement by the department continued: “The compromised elephant was found fairly easily based on the last reported sightings from the community. Once darted, it was ascertained that it was a teenage male, and the team worked quickly to remove the tyre that was probably impacting upon its feeding.
“The operation was done relatively quickly in a matter of hours, and it is thanks to efficient coordination of our own staff, those with specialist expertise and our airborne team, which waived its fees as this was a genuine conservation effort.”
Elephants are a protected species in the area and the area where this particular animal was located had a small hand of wild elephants that exist relatively harmoniously with locals.
Locals are keen to foster a healthy relationship with the elephants, which they say bring tourism benefits and enrich the landscape.
It is unclear whether the tyre was dumped or whether it was one of those used occasionally in anti-erosion measures that might have been picked up by the elephant to play with and accidentally got lodged around its neck.
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Story By: James King, Sub-Editor: Alex Cope, Agency: Newsflash
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