Zim elephant, eye sockets crawling with maggots, to be put down

2015-05-06 18:26


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Harare - A female elephant found wandering in remote northern Zimbabwe appears to have lost both of her eyes and will likely be euthanised by state rangers, a conservation group said Wednesday.

Heart-breaking pictures of the elephant, its eye sockets crawling with maggots, were posted to the Aware Trust's Facebook page and to other web pages, eliciting an outpouring of sympathy.

The elephant was found alone in Matusadona, a national park in the north of Zimbabwe which borders on Lake Kariba. She appears to have old bullet wounds and is limping badly, said Aware, which is run by vets in Zimbabwe.

"National parks [Zimbabwe's state wildlife authority] have allegedly made the decision to euthanise her," the trust said.

"We believe the wounds were caused by bullets or shrapnel that have become secondarily infested with screw worm and bacterial infection."

"She has probably been scratching her eye sockets viciously as maggots crawled around inside them," it added.

It was not immediately clear what had eaten away at the elephants' eyes. There is speculation that a flesh-eating bacteria or a fungal infection could be to blame. Aware said in a previous post that it was not clear whether the elephant had totally lost the sight of her right eye. 

"This breaks my heart," wrote one Facebook user on the Aware Trust page.

Another posted: "That's awful. Heaven forbid the cause had anything to do with human malice or mistreatment".

The group had warned that the animal might have to be put down.

Results of a nationwide elephant survey released at the end of 2014 showed that elephant numbers had decreased by up to 75% in Matusadona and neighbouring Chizarira areas in 13 years, mainly due to poaching.

But the elephant population in Gonarezhou and the Save Valley Conservancy in south-eastern Zimbabwe appears significant.

Baobab trees in this low-lying area have been damaged by elephants in what some experts say is a sure sign of overpopulation.

Aware Trust said next to a photo of the terribly-disfigured animal: "If this doesn't sensitise you to the plight of the elephants, then you probably have no heart."

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  poaching  |  southern africa  |  conservation

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