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Mulisani has a growth on his trunk

Up at the crack of dawn, the team at the Kafue Release Facility prepared for the removal of a growth/fibroma that had developed at the bottom of Mulisani’s trunk. As the trunk plays such a vital role in the welfare of an elephant it was decided to have it removed to ensure the best quality of life and for further analysis of its cause.

We were honored to have Dr Chadzantso, a Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) vet to perform the operation who was ably assisted by two vet students from the University of Zambia.

The first challenge faced was to separate Mulisani from the rest of the heard so that the operation could take place safely inside the boma. Gift Shimwezhi, armed with pellets, drew Mulisani away as the rest of the keepers managed to move the herd out of the boma oblivious to Mulisani who began devouring his pellets.

While enjoying his pellets Dr Chadzantso was able to dart him safely through the fence. Though shocked at the sudden prick, Gift reassured Mulisani that everything was alright and he immediately went on eating again. He was relaxed and calm so it didn’t take long for the sedatives to take effect and for him to go down.

“Covering their eyes and talking softly to them helps sooth them so that they feel safe”

Gift was with Mulisani immediately and helped him lower his head to the ground before covering his eyes.

“Covering their eyes and talking softly to them helps sooth them so that they feel safe”. – Says Gift. Although very quickly Mulisani was fully anaesthetized and unaware of the procedures going on about him.

After ensuring the area was sterile Dr Chadzantso began the very swift removal of the growth and dried and packed the wound with grey clay, a natural healing agent. During this time the team were efficient in taking growth measurements, blood samples and some ticks were removed for testing.

After the sedative was reversed and under the watchful eye of Gift and the team, Mulisani slowly started to regain consciousness, and immediately put his now treated wound into his mouth as if to suckle and inspect it. It reminded us of a baby seeking comfort through sucking its thumb. Then after a few attempts Mulisani finally got back up onto his feet.

Packed up and samples collected it was back across the river to place the blood and fibroma in ice to head off back to Lusaka for analysis. Whilst Mulisani remained within the boma for the afternoon so that the team could keep a watchful eye over him as the drugs wore off before once again joining the herd out on the walks.

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