I am jumping the gun here to number seven because of a situation that is out of control and needs urgent assistance from people like us who are not directly involved in conservation but who want to help. This 25 year old bull elephant was shot dead in the head, the polite term being ‘euthanised’, seconds after the photograph was taken at approximately 11.45 am this morning.
He collapsed late last night at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge watering hole and writhed in agony until National Parks staff arrived along with Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust in a rescue operation. The bull was found with his trunk down his throat in a desperate attempt to suck up regurgitated water to keep himself alive. This is now the seventh elephant to fall victim to suffocation from a blocked intestine after swallowing plastic. A tragic reality of urbanisation in wildlife areas and the devastating effect of pollution to our environment. Unable to save yet another elephant after extracting digested plastic bags from a bloated abdomen, in the far right of the photo, Parks and VFWT staff were left with no alternative but to put an end to his suffering.
A cash strapped city council cannot afford to fence off the municipal refuse tip, a major cause of litter and daily source of food for a disturbing number of wild animals including elephant who roam the area at night. Plastic shopping bags are strewn across the open pit spreading like wild fire with the wind. Not simply a case of a cheap wire fence, elephants walk through walls and trample fences thus increasing the cost of security tenfold. Charlene Hewat CEO of Environment Africa is mobilising the local community to cut down on plastic shoppings bags in Victoria Falls. Surrounded by a national park, every effort has to be made to protect high risk wildlife namely threatened species like the elephant. Charlie’s team here on the ground at the Victoria Falls Green Fund are responsible for the ‘clean ups’ around town and along the river picking up debris after carnivals and conferences. The unsung heroes in every society who volunteer to mop up our mess!
Posters like the photograph above are in print and to be displayed outside local supermarkets in an effort to deter shoppers from purchasing plastic bags and an attempt to educate people on how their daily choices can save lives. $50 000 is needed to build a fence around the dump site strong enough to keep elephants at bay and out of harms way.
You can help by donating or sharing the link to the Victoria Falls Elephant Fence Fund. This money will go directly to building this fence thereby protecting the lives of vulnerable wildlife and ensuring tragedies like these are not repeated. Please spare a thought for the environment before you buy plastic. Take your own carrier or use a cardboard box. Not only suffocating elephants on the Zambezi, plastic bags and bottles travel down river into the sea strangling baby dolphins and countless other marine life. Putting an end to this environmental hazard in one place along the river protects lives all the way along its vast flow. The ripple effect or chain reaction of a fragile web of life so intricately woven and so wholly dependent on the human heart and mind.
Photo courtesy of Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust