Tragic Images Of Elephant Calf Without Trunk
Is it possible for an elephant to survive without its trunk? That may seem like a ridiculous question but unfortunately for one elephant calf in South Africa’s Kruger National Park this is a reality it must contend with and an answer that needs to be arrived at. Recently footage of an elephant calf with a short stump in place of its trunk emerged. No one is quite sure how it lost its trunk but the loss of the appendage should not be taken likely.
An elephant’s trunk is extremely versatile, it can be used to breathe, bathe, grasp and transport. Thanks to more than 40,000 muscles within the trunk, an elephant can use it to lift more than 700 pounds. Experts say that elephants also use their trunks as a means of social contact and add that they are not optimistic that this calf will survive into adulthood. One conservationist however isn’t quite ready to give up hope.
We shouldn’t make assumptions
Joyce Poole who is a co-founder of ElephantVoices says she thinks the wound has healed which means the calf has carried the injury for quite a while and still appears to be in very good condition. This means the calf must be getting enough nutrition from somewhere. This is not the first time this has been seen, elephants losing their trunks is common in areas where there are snares. Whilst snares are meant to trap smaller animals, larger animals such as elephants often end up being captured by mistake which is a threat to wildlife across Africa.
Calf probably injured by a snare
Whilst the snare thesis is most likely it is also possible that the calf may have suffered at the hands of one of the many predators that surround it. Ms Poole says many elephants have lost their tails to hyena attacks and it is also possible that a crocodile latched on to the calf’s trunk. She adds that whilst this case is the worst she has seen, in other cases she has witnesses, the elephants have shown an amazing ability to adapt to their injuries such as eating leaves at head level or kneeling to drink.
Hopefully it will get by with a little help from its friends
Ms Poole says that whilst she has never seen it herself she has heard credible reports of adult elephants with trunk injuries being given food by other adults in the herd. She was told about one incident where one elephant used its trunk to supply water to an injured herd member’s mouth. In the end Ms Poole says we shouldn’t just assume the calf will not survive, obviously it will face difficulties, but it is very possible that it will receive assistance from other members of the family.