Wild elephant bull seeks help for sore foot at Botswana lodge

2015-09-30 10:15
Lodge manager Mike Toth’s daughters Tanya (left) and Miane splash water on Bennie to keep him cool during his operation at the Elephant Sands Lodge in Botswana.

Lodge manager Mike Toth’s daughters Tanya (left) and Miane splash water on Bennie to keep him cool during his operation at the Elephant Sands Lodge in Botswana. (Mike Toth)

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Pietermaritzburg - A wild elephant bull at the Elephant Sands Lodge in Botswana has been operated on after he appeared to seek help for a sore foot.

It is believed that Bennie the elephant made his way to the lodge to seek help in relieving the pain caused by the abscess on his foot. Once there, he wandered among occupied tents in the lodge’s campsite.

Lodge manager Mike Toth said wild animals were free to roam around the property and had no human interaction as they belonged to the wild and not to the lodge.

“One day, about three weeks ago, I saw a bull elephant bothering people in the camp.

“When I tried to chase him away, I saw he was limping and his foot was swollen.”

Instead of walking away, Bennie used his trunk to point to Toth and then pointed at his foot.

“I didn’t realise what he was doing at first but then he tried to touch me with his trunk and then lifted his foot and pointed to it.

“I fetched a hose pipe and let him drink water from it because his herd would not allow him to drink with them because of his injury. After he finished drinking, he lifted his foot again and I hosed down his foot with some water and then he went on his way.”

Toth said Bennie returned to the camp two days later, limping between the tents at around 3 am.

“I shouted, ‘Bennie, get away,’ and when I started walking away, I saw he was following me.

“He followed me like a dog for 60 metres until I stopped and hosed down his foot again.

“He touched me with his trunk about six times that morning.”

Toth said he then made contact with wildlife vet Erik Verreynne, who drove eight-and-a-half hours to treat Bennie at the lodge.

Verreynne said the abscess was “most likely caused by a foreign body like a stick”.

After darting Bennie, he removed the dead tissue, washed out the pus and disinfected the wound.

“There is a sinus tract going between the toes that is very deep. Something may still be lodged in there. If the body is out, the prognosis is good. He responded well to painkillers and hopefully the antibiotics given will assist to clear up the abscess completely.”

Toth said the experience had been “extremely touching” and “amazing” for a wild elephant to interact with humans. He said he would be monitoring the wound and would update Verreynne on his progress

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  elephant  |  animals

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