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Elephant Baby Snare Poaching - News with happy and sad ends

September 2015

The Rescue Of An Injured Baby

little Thomas

The team reached little Thomas just in time. His mother and family are waiting nearby.

On the 31st August the life of a young elephant in Thuma Forest Reserve in central Malawi was saved by Wildlife Action Group (WAG), a non profit organization that manages Thuma and Wildlife Emergency Response Unit (WERU ) a joint venture between Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) and the Malawi Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW).

Lynn Clifford ensures 'Little Thomas'

Lynn Clifford ensures 'Little Thomas' airways are open and monitors his breathing while the treatment is given.

The injured baby, named Thomas, was discovered on August 29th by WAG scouts who patrol the park 24/7/365. They tracked the elephant family for two days and on the afternoon of the 31st managed to dart him and remove the snare. The whole procedure took 45 minutes from beginning to end.

wounded leg

The snare was buried deep into the leg but
had not yet reached the bone. The leg is very swollen.

Derek Macpherson who responded to WAG's request to WERU for help, treated the baby along with WAG scouts, WAG manager Lynn Clifford, donor Thomas Topfer (Chairman of Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V. (REA) who was visiting Thuma at the time and two WAG volunteers.


Derek administers the anticdote and the team retreat back into the bush.

Thomas on his feet

'Little Thomas' up on his feet!

The wound caused by the snare on the baby elephant's right front leg was very bad but not yet down to the bone. While the baby's elephant family stood by, kept at a safe distance by noise and a few gun shots into the air, the wound was cleaned, and long acting antibiotics were administered, followed by the antidote to the tranquilizer.

Within 90 seconds little Thomas lifted his head and rumbled for his family to come. His mother and other members of his family rushed to him. He stood up slowly, and they walked off together into the forest. WAG scouts have sighted the family since, and Thomas is looking stronger and seems to be healing well.

Thank you to WAG's donors for making all of this possible, and thanks to WERU (and particularly to Derek) for their quick response and excellent help and to REA for covering costs of the rescue. The WAG scouts patrol the forest everyday of the year collecting snares. Snares are indiscriminate and trap, injure mame and kill all types of wildlife. The cost of saving the animals (if we find them in time) is very expensive. We'd like to get more scouts out to help stop this happening in the first place and protect all the animals in the Reserve.

A Terrible Lost

At the weekend in the middle of September, we found a young elephant that seems to have died due to a terrible snare injury.We last saw him in early July with a snare on his leg via a camera trap but have not seen him since until Sunday. The snare was particularly nasty with 4 wires wrapped together. Terrible lost for the reserve and his family.

On that Sunday we also arrested Bertie the snare poacher for the third time! He was pretending to come to cut bamboo (had a ticket) and went straight to the place where we had found snares and were waiting for the one to come check them! He is in police custody now.

Thuma Telegraph - Greeting

July 2015

Dear Donors, Friends and Supporters!

I hope you have not forgotten us as it has been a long time since we have updated you. Sorry! :) Days, weeks and months are rolling into one and time is flying. In our last news letter we told you about Dixons return and arrest. We appeared in court in November in Lilongwe and Dixon was sentenced to 4 years hard labour in prison. I visit him periodically to make sure he is still inside :).

December we found a lone baby elephant in Dedza Salima Forest and were faced with having to decide what to do. Read on to find out more. November saw Semi precious Gem stones (garnet) were discovered in the Lilongwe River and masses flocked to dig up stones and make some money. Most poaching stopped which took the pressure off us a little.

January we arrested two men with 4 elephant leg bones leaving the reserve. Rainy season has come and gone all too quickly. Malawi has been very unfortunate this year and the rains started promising, however, certain areas had too much rain and many areas were affected with floods. People lost their lives, homes and crops. In our area the rains was also too heavy too early which meant the fertilizer was washed away. Despite that by the end of January things looked good when in February the rains stopped altogether and the maize started rotting on the plant! Most people have very little harvest and we are in for a really difficult year with food shortages and possible famine in some areas!

In April we held training for our new recruits with Rory Young on tracking skills and investigation methods with funding from the elephant crisis fund through Save the Elephant and Wildlife Conservation Network. End of April Chris Thouless from Save the Elephant visited to assess the project.

Rory Young

Rory, A BIG Thank you from WAG, for all your time and help!

In May we have had additional training from Rory Young. As will as patrolling, all of the roads were maintained after the rains and regular patrols up to Mount Thuma have shown a great decrease in charcoal burning. Human Elephant conflict was controlled well where the fence was and we placed rangers in hot spots where there was no fence to chase elephants back. Little or no damage done this year. Local population is very happy, even in places where there is no fence. In April we were very much part of Malawi celebrating World Wildlife Day and the near ivory stock pile burn.

WAG also took part in a four day workshop to discuss and plan the National Elephant Action plan (NEAP). April also was some major arrests with people selling fake ivory and so it goes on!:) In May and June we have arrested over 50 arrests for various illegal activities. This year we will be pushed to the limits as people outside are struggling to make ends meet.

Yours sincerely

Lynn and WAG scouts

-> Please, click here to read the complete Thuma Telegraph (Jul.15).

Fence Report: 56km fence are built now - 2015 target is to build another 25km

April 2015

The Great Thuma Fence Extension - A Success Story And An Ongoing Challenge

Maize field destroyed by elephants

Maize field destroyed by elephants.
A survey was completed by villagers before and after the fence was erected.
These are some of the comments they had:

"Just appreciating to well-wishers"
"We are staying well without elephant problem"
"Just appreciate what has been done 2yrs ago"
"I am proud of the fence"
"My life has changed cause no more elephants coming out"
"Our harvests are now safe"
"Our crops are now protected"
"I can relax at night - I don’t have to worry about elephants destroying fields"
"It has helped because there isn’t damage that used to occur"
"Harvesting mature crops unlike previous years"
"It’s better now because they just see elephants inside but no damages out"
"Elephants are not coming out at all"
"Congratulations for the fence because the elephants are not coming out any more..
..and crops are harvested at a good time unlike before"

It’s that time of year again - The Great Thuma Fence Extension. Where the fence is in existence, villagers are delighted as there has been less crop damage and a greater sense of security. People can at last sleep more peacefully at night without fears that their crops will be destroyed by elephants. Happy fed people means that there is less pressure to subsidy their diet from the forest. And because the elephants are kept within the forest boundary they are easier to protect from poachers. There is no greater need for this than now with elephants threatened by extinction by 2025. 56km has been completed already (Thanks to all your donations!!). The target for 2015 is to build another 25km but to do this we need your help. Work will take place in October before the rains come again. It costs about Euro 2000 per kilometre.

-> Please help us to complete the vital next stage.

Volunteer Programme Site Has Been Updated

January 2015


Hello 2015 :)

We have updated some information details for the Volunteer Programme. The daily volunteer contribution has been raised to Euro 35(Update April15: also Internship!).

-> Please, click here for visiting the Volunteer Programme site.

-> Please, click here for latest news in 2014.

We are very thankful for the support of our generous donors and partners in our continuous effort to protect Malawi’s forest and wildlife for future generations. THANK YOU!