Molly was an African elephant calf. She was born in the south of Zimbabwe – the Lowveld. In September 2017 she lost her mother when she was just six months old; not to poachers, but in a hunting “accident”. Her mother apparently charged a hunting party to protect her calf. The “professional hunter” (PH), who was tracking a wounded wildebeest, believing his group to be in danger, shot Molly’s mother. As he was not hunting elephant he did not have the correct weapon, so one can only imagine how long it took him to kill her.
Molly was found a few days later, and taken to a ranch in the Lowveld. She ended up at the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN) after the intervention of Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management (ZNPWM) around the circumstances of Molly’s mother’s death. Since November, ZEN has been caring for Molly, trying to help her come to terms with the mental and physical trauma she suffered. She had lost the sight in one eye, and initially walked in circles due to brain injuries she suffer during the shooting incident. She demonstrated so much courage, and with the love of the other elephants at ZEN and under the care of the dedicated staff there was great hope she would recover.
Molly died on Thursday 10 May, 2018. Two days later the autopsy results have been released by Roxy Danckwerts of Wild is Life and Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery. What is revealed is a shameful account of human nature at its very worst. Roxy words are:
The initial finding of the post mortem done on Molly showed two massive intracranial epidural abscesses, which had been caused by the complete fracture of her left Molar 2. We are still investigating further concussion injuries in the jaw. This injury occurred during the killing of Molly’s mother in a hunting accident.
Additional information just in: We have cleaned up the bone and found a bullet entry wound, beneath the Molar 2. This elephant calf was shot, at some point in the whole melee.
I have an awful lot to say to the PH (name known and withheld), the hunting client (name known and withheld) and the landowner (name known and withheld). Why this calf was not immediately bought into professional care immediately, is not known. The cruelty of leaving this little soul, without medical attention, on her own in the bush FOR DAYS, with her dead mother is, frankly, reprehensible.
It is time to stop being a nation of killers, thieves and dominion believers. Causing untold pain and cruelty to other beings is unconscionable. “Leaving it to nature”, particularly when the problem is man-made (and this includes man-made waterholes) is also a thought process that comes out of the ark and has no place in our current society. I am sick of it.
I am not a major “bunny hugger”, nor an activist. I am a realist and I visit life and death on a daily basis. However, this incident and so many others have enraged me, due to the brutal and unnecessary cruelty inflicted.
Please note that it is now Government POLICY to report and rescue injured and orphaned elephant calves. There is a set of standards and protocols signed by the Director General ZPWMA for this purpose. So, do not look away. Do not walk away. Do not take that calf behind a bush and shoot it. Make an effort. Stand up for something good. Do what is right. Show some compassion. Think long and hard about second chances.
The one lesson learned from Molly’s short time on earth is about the milk formula. We have finally found a crack in the armour of this particular issue, for southern African elephant calves. One size does not fit all. Every calf is different, but we have run the gauntlet and we now have a far better understanding of the digestive tolerance of these fragile animals, and what we can do to mitigate those problems.
We are continually told that professional hunting in Zimbabwe is ethical. The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association assures us that “the primary objective of this association is to work with policy makers to identify problems and formulate solutions for conservation of our wildlife and habitat in Zimbabwe.” Yet increasingly we see actions that contradict this claim,; there is little if any regard for the wildlife resources the organisation claims it wants to respect. If this is the case how does the organisation explain its silence on the following “unethical” hunts that have taken place in the last three years:
- Cecil, the collared lion from Hwange National Park was killed by Walter Palmer in July 2015. The PH responsible for the lions’s death claim he was devastated when he realised he’d helped hunt and kill a protected animal, yet he still hid Cecil’s collar and oversaw the skinning of the lion for Palmer’s taxidermist.
- Two months later he was arrested for illegally transporting 29 sable antelope from Zambia to South Africa. To date there is no evidence he has been called to account for his actions.
- In July last year Cecil’s son Xanda, another collared lion, was killed by a trophy hunter.
- This year two collared elephants from Gonarezhou National Park have been killed by hunters being guided by PHs – the first one on March 7, the second on April 12.
- And then there’s Molly’s mother…
Trophy and sport hunting no longer has a place in today’s world. Poachers are destroying Africa’s wildlife resources at an alarming rate; why do we need trophy hunters doing the same thing, albeit at a slower rate? Human beings have been labelled as the “ultimate super-species predator” – we have developed more methods than any other species to kill and destroy the other species sharing our planet. Contrary to the claims of hunting organisations all over the world, trophy hunting does not support conservation and is helping push species to the brink of extinction. Take a look at the photographs in the link provided; how attractive is that room filled with dead animals in frozen, glass-eyed poses. What kind of person is happy to pose next to a dead elephant lying in blood from its front tusk, mouth and front legs? How much effort did it take to kill that giraffe?
Thank you to Roxy and everyone at Wild is Life/ZEN for giving this elephant child what her mother was denied: a chance at life. Thank you for respecting Molly and caring for her, and for showing her the best of mankind.
Only when the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned will your realise that you cannot eat money.
Native American Indian saying.