An elephant is rescued after being shot by a poacher

Lisa Marabini, a young South African woman, lives in Zimbabwe where she volunteers with AWARE, an organization dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their natural habitat. One day she got an extremely urgent call: an elephant had been found and was badly injured. 

She and her husband Keith Dutlow immediately went to see if they could help. "This elephant looks like he’s been shot in the head," she noted, but she wasn't sure. In spite of its injury, the elephant seemed surprisingly calm.

From a distance of more than 90 yards, Keith shot the animal with a tranquilizer. The massive elephant stumbled around for a few minutes and then slumped to the ground.

When the rescuers approached, they confirmed that the elephant, whom they decided to call "Pretty Boy," had indeed been shot in the head.

According to the X-ray, the bullet had only missed Pretty Boy’s brain by a couple of inches!

The wound was obviously badly infected — it was covered in a thick, greyish liquid that stank like rotten fish. Lisa had never seen anything like it.

Veterinarians carefully cleaned the wound, using surgical instruments to adequately remove all the infected tissue. They also noticed that the small-caliber bullet (from a rifle not powerful enough to kill an animal of this size) had ricocheted and fractured a bone.

A few hours later, Pretty Boy was back on his feet but his condition was heartbreaking. For several long minutes he remained completely motionless with his head resting on a tree trunk. Fortunately, over the next few days his condition improved rapidly. It was clear to his rescuers that he would survive this "misadventure" after all.


Lisa and the others were particularly impressed by Pretty Boy's behavior — despite the abuse he had endured from shameless poachers, he was still incredibly friendly towards humans. Even when the rescuers came back to help him with his recovery, he just kept eating and remained totally relaxed. It was as though his faith in humans had not been shaken.


Poaching has been a serious problem in parts of the African continent for a long time and has reached epidemic proportions in the past 20 years. Ivory from elephant tusks is just one of many animal items traded on the black market every year. Prevention efforts are usually badly underfunded and can't compete with the illegal trade in animal parts that generates billions of dollars a year.

Fortunately, Pretty Boy was rescued and is now leading a peaceful life again. But many elephants aren't so lucky and they aren't the only ones — rhinoceroses, lions, tigers and many other rare species are also targeted by poachers.

Animal lovers like Lisa and Keith are working hard every day to let the world know what is going on. They want to stop this barbaric practice and save all the species that haven't already been wiped out. If you'd like to do your part, you can sign this petition to ban ivory trading in the European Union which serves as the main hub for the global ivory trade.

Maybe if we all do our part, beautiful creatures like Pretty Boy won't have to suffer and die to please the superficial whims and greed of a handful of collectors. 


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