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Elvis is De-horned for His Safety

May 20, 2011

Elvis is the most curious and friendly of all the black rhinos on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. His territory lies around the Lewa Headquarters where he makes frequent visits especially when he is thirsty. In the last few years, he has learned how to turn on the taps and drink to his fill.

Elvis has an easygoing temperament; his familiarity with people makes him easily approachable. This and the fact that his territory is very close to a public road that passes through Lewa poses a threat to his well being given the increased poaching threat to rhinos. It was decided that he should be de-horned for his own safety as these two factors make him a prime target for poachers.

On the morning of Tuesday, 15th March, we found Elvis happily feeding in an area known as Luai ya Richard. He was not in the least bit anxious as we approached him and was darted successfully by the vet. After a few minutes; he staggered around and gently went down. The vet, Dr. Matthew Mutinda , Ian Craig and a team of people moved quickly to soothe and hold him down, remove the dart, monitor his temperature, measure and mark the section of horns to be cut off, and cool him down with some water. A chain saw was quickly powered up and the first of his horns was soon cut off by Ian Craig. The edges were neatly rounded by clipping bits of the remaining horn off. Once that was done, the smaller horn was also cut off and neatly trimmed. Everyone worked well as a team and the de-horning exercise was successful. The security team collected the rhino horn and smaller clippings for safekeeping.

There was an atmosphere of sadness during the exercise as we felt that a part of Elvis was being taken away all because of senseless poaching driven by the high demand and price of rhino horn. However, we understood that this needed to be done for his safety.
The antidote was administered to Elvis who woke up after a few minutes and immediately started feeding. He then walked up to the Vet’s vehicle and started rubbing his snout against it. He seemed to wonder where his horns had gone off to as he managed to get his head in between the tyre and body of the vehicle. He hung around for some petting from the rangers and after a short while one of them slowly led him away.

We can now rest assured that our friendly black rhino, Elvis, will be safe from poachers.