An elephant’s pain from a grisly leg wound after being caught in a cable snare has been captured in heartbreaking photos.
The gentle giant was treated for a bloody gaping wound to its hind leg after being targeted by cruel poachers ‘for meat.’
Veterinarians rescued the animal today after it was found with the injury in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
Elephants are targeted by poachers for their meat and ivory tusks, with thousands still slaughtered globally every year despite ivory bans.
Kruger authorities assured that the elephant had been able to be rescued from its ordeal and it was treated by vets successfully.
In the pictures the elephant lies prone, and it is unclear whether it is lying down in pain or if it has been tranquilised by vets tending to its wounds.
But in a tweet highlighting the cruelty of the cable snares used to poach the giant beasts, the park authorities made it clear the snare was designed to cause terrible harm.
A bloody wound can be seen as the cable snare slices through the elephant’s tough hide.
The park’s official account posted: “A cable snare was removed from this elephant, and it was treated by KNP vets.”
Kruger’s Twitter account added that the the poaching technique was generally used to catch elephants for consumption.
It tweeted to queries from concerned followers: “It is the type of snare (cable wire is used) set for bush-meat trade, or subsistence poaching. The elephants step into the snare.”
A total 31 elephants were killed in South Africa last year, according to the country’s environment ministry.
“This is a decrease in the number of elephants poached in 2018, when 71 were killed for their tusks,” it said.
More than 13,000 elephants live in Kruger National Park, a prized safari tourism destination in South Africa.
The wildlife is fiercely protected in the park, which spends millions on anti-poaching initiatives to ward off wildlife crime.
The ivory trade has been illegal in most countries for decades including the UK, but elephants continue to be targeted for their meat and tusks in Asia and Africa.
However it was not illegal in the UK until very recently to trade already carved or worked antique ivory, such as relics dating from before 1947.
Campaigners decrying the thousands of pieces of ivory being traded in the UK every year urged the ban to go further.
Wildlife advocates have long argued continuing to prize elephant tusk ivory on the antique market fuels the modern poaching trade.
The UK government moved to outright ban the ivory trade in late 2018 following a consulation.
Its decision noted that number of elephants has declined by almost a third in the last decade and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered due to black market global demand for ivory.
Some exemptions for trade would remain for items such as museum exhibits, and pieces with small amounts of ivory in them – for example musical instruments made prior to 1975.