Brits pilot and conservationist, Tokkie Botes, recently assisted in the rescue of a young elephant that had managed to get a tyre wedged around his head.
Tokkie a pilot for Flying for Freedom, a non-profit organisation that assist in animal conservation, was requested by the North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT) to assist when a young elephant bull was spotted with a tyre around its head at the Rietfontein Game Ranch near Zeerust.
Together with veterinarian, Dr Paul Bartels, Tokkie set off in his helicopter to join rangers from Madikwe Game Reserve in tracking the elephant.
“Community members alerted the department of the elephant with the tyre around its head and a coordinated effort was made to find the animal,” said spokesperson for DEDECT, Dumisa Seshabela. “The elephant was undoubtedly in a lot of discomfort. The elephant was found fairly easily based on the last reported sightings from the community. Once darted, it was determined that it was a teenage male, and the team worked quickly to remove the tyre,” she said.
She said landowners often use tyres to prevent erosion and it is suspected that the young elephant may have picked one up out of curiosity, and it slipped down its trunk, getting wedged over its mouth.
“The operation was completed in a matter of hours, thanks to the efficient and specialist expertise of our members and the airborne team that waived their fees as this was a genuine conservation effort,” Seshabela said.