Monday, October 24, 2005
No one knows where he came from or how he got there. All that is known is that the guy that hit him was going just 60mph. Enough speed to send the animal flying 15 feet and break off one antler.
The 'accident' happened at 4am and here it was 11:45am the same day. I had loaded up the kids to surprise them for lunch and slowed with the traffic to gawk at what was going on at the side of the road. There was a remote news van, several trucks, and one truck with a trailer pulled near the fence. I read the sign on the side of the truck and immediately pulled over--our local wildlife rescue organization was on the scene.
As I was walking back towards the truck, a police officer pulled up beside me in his cruiser wanting to know what I was doing, cautioning me to leave and be careful because they'd already had several near-miss wrecks from people slowing down. I told him I was a volunteer and was going to see if they needed help. At that time, Suki walked over and asked if I had been called to help and I explained that I had just been driving by. She then told me about the animal that had been injured--a cudu (a very large member of the antelope family). She led me over to where he was. A huge being was laying on his side. Sand colored and majestic. His hide was covered in slashes, cuts, and punctures. One horn looked to have been torn off and was a bloody stump. The other spiraled in cypress grey. His eyes were wide even though he was sedated and blood had poured out of his nose and mouth and had splattered over the ground and surrounding grasses. He looked to be built very chest heavy while his hips were slimmer... no doubt his weight would show about 500-600 pounds.
I can only guess at what his thoughts were--surrounded by people, voices, and all matter of vehicular sounds, all entirely foreign and by nature he was supposed to get away. Now he wasn't able to as sedation was setting in and planning on how to transport him to the sanctuary ensued.
I stayed to help in whatever capacity I could while Forrest and Lillie made due in the van. Eventually, David brought out ropes and tying of the legs of the cudu began. Care was of utmost importance and everyone went quiet. Legs were tied, then a rope around the horns was next. The cudu's head was covered to alleviate any more shock. That rope was fed to the trailer.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours of pulling, pushing, grunting and replanning; and with the help of WRR personnel, David and his assistant, myself, two police officers, and a helping passerby, we finally got him into the trailer.
He was taken to the sanctuary and the plan was to release him of his bindings and be allowed to exit the trailer on his own. There was a fear of a broken left front leg, so x-rays while he was still sedated and medications to give were planned for.
My last glimpse was of the trailer going north headed to the sanctuary. My prayers of healing and huge hopes for recovery followed.
Sadly, the cudu died not long after arriving at WRR. He was able to exit the trailer on his own and was able to see he was in a safe environment, but his injuries and shock were just too much for his system.
I am so saddened that this animal, this majestic animal, who by birthright should be browsing and grazing the plains and brush of eastern and southern Africa, was slain in an environment so removed from his native habitat. He was a victim many times over--of the exotic animal trade that stocks 'ranches' with these animals so that "hunters" can shoot, eventually kill, and mount their heads as trophies. He was a victim of a driver with NO ability to drive safely at 4am. That stretch of roadway is well lit and to not be able to miss a 600 pound animal is neglect in any realm.
I am also saddened that the only way I was able to see this animal was because, like so many other animals, he had been hit by a car.
So tragic and so terribly wrong.