Dilan the elephant a casualty of snares

Do you remember Dilan, the young elephant who was rescued by the Wildlife Ambulance in February 2020? We regularly check in on him, and although he’s recovered amazingly well, the news is not great for his potential to survive long-term in the wild.

Above: Dilan being freed in 2020 from the rope snare that had become embedded in his right front foot

Dilan’s snare injury was one of the most severe we’d ever seen, and it took an entire team of rangers and vets to free him. At the time, he was about five years old, still quite young in elephant years. The rope snare around his foot had cut so deeply through his skin and muscle that it was down to the bone. 

The team sedated Dilan and removed the snare, providing urgent first aid treatment in the field. The calf was evacuated to an elephant care centre for ongoing treatment and care. For two and a half years, Dilan has lived in this centre, alive and recovering, but not quite free. Sadly, it’s unlikely he will ever be able to return to his forest home, as the rope snare has given him a permanent disability. Our friends at the Wildlife Ambulance tell us that when he was evacuated two and a half years ago, his carpal joint had already been destroyed by the tight rope snare. Your gift today will provide care, food and medical attention for Dilan.

Above: Dilan now in his home at the elephant centre, waiting for food to be delivered by his faithful carer

So how is he doing now? Although Dilan may never return to true freedom in the forest, he is loved and cared for by the elephant centre. The carer who has cared for him since he arrived at the centre two and a half years ago has formed a loving relationship with Dilan. He is very dedicated and extremely diligent, providing the best possible care under difficult conditions.

For example, he used his own initiative to plant king grass in a few locations close to the main road where there are some small strips of land. He is maintaining and harvesting this small grass plantation daily to ensure a good supply of healthy food for Dilan. Below you can see him delivering some grass to Dilan. (Note: although Dilan has a chain around his ankle during feeding time, this is not a permanent situation - it’s only required when the carer needs to keep Dilan in the one place for feeding.)

Despite the trauma he’s experienced, Dilan has made an extraordinary recovery. His carpal joint has healed as much as it possibly could, and considering the severity of the injury, it’s surprising that it healed to even this level. IEP’s Senior Veterinarian, Dr Christopher Stremme from the Wildlife Ambulance had initially expected the entire foot would become so infected that it would need to be amputated. In those early days, he was also concerned that Dilan might not survive the severe septicemia in his blood. But this little guy is a fighter, and he’s gone from strength to strength!

Above: the wound has healed but two and a half years later, there is still significant swelling and inflammation in Dilan's carpal

Dilan’s right carpal joint is not fully functioning and the injury has permanently compromised his mobility. He can walk normally around the elephant centre, but if he is forced to walk for long distances or at a fast pace, it causes him obvious discomfort and leads to swelling and limping. This is a lot to go through, but Dilan is a true survivor. We’re very fond of this young elephant and will bring you more news next year.

We had hoped to be able to tell you that this sweet young elephant will one day return to freedom in the forest, but we are grateful that he was able to be rescued. You can help us care for Dilan with a donation today.

Posted in...

Elephant News