A trunk is one of the defining physical characteristics of an elephant, and is a very important tool when going about their daily lives.
Aside from being a fascinating body part to observe; the trunk also serves a number of vital functions.
Among other purposes, the elephant can use their trunk to communicate, to grasp and lift objects and even wrestle with fellow elephants.
This is why it is so sad to see a young elephant who is missing their trunk. Far from being a mere aesthetic difference, this loss will affect them throughout their life in the wild.
Footage captured by Safari-goers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park on September 1 shows an elephant calf without a trunk.
The youngster can be seen walking around with their family, with one adult member nuzzling it with their own impressive trunk.
There is clearly plenty of love for the little elephant, but the challenges it will have to face are already heartbreakingly apparent.
In the footage, a man can be heard saying:
Oh no way. A baby elephant without a trunk?
Poor thing. That is unreal, I have never seen anything like this.
I don’t think it is going to make it. Oh man.
It is unclear exactly how the elephant came to lose its trunk. However, it is thought this could have been due to a predator attack.
Crocodiles are known to bite baby elephants’ trunks while they drink at the watering hole, while lions have also been observed clamping down on trunks when they attack.
It may also be possible the young calf fell foul of a hunter’s snare. It is considered unlikely the animal was born this way.
The person who filmed the upsetting scene had some sad predictions for the baby elephant’s future:
Crocodiles grabbing baby elephants by their trunks while drinking water have been recorded in Kruger before and this was the most likely reason for this baby elephant losing its crucially important body part.
An individual can simply not survive without its trunk. Elephants use their trunks to feed, drink water and smell.
Unfortunately, the future for this poor little one looked very bleak.
Without a working trunk, the elephant will struggle to defend itself from predators and will be severely restricted when it comes to activities such as foraging for food.
— cookingwithluyanda (@Luyanda_Maf) September 6, 2018
According to elephant charity Eleaid:
The reason a charging elephant tucks his trunk out of harm’s way is to protect it from damage. A functioning trunk is absolutely vital for an elephant’s survival.
It is a remarkable organ and just one of the reasons that elephants are such exceptional animals.
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⠀ T R A V E L ?⠀ ?Kruger National Park, South Africa ??⠀ ⠀ Aren't elephants the most majestic animals of the African savanna? It was early in the morning when this elephant showed up right in front of us! ⠀ ⠀ When I sent my mom this picture, she texted me back the next day talking about her nightmare of elephants crushing our car, haha. Luckily, the African tour guide Wawa explained that most wild animals see cars as dead objects and not as a threat. ⠀ ⠀ ❓What is your favorite African animal?⠀ ⠀ ? by @illonahartman⠀ #WanderlustWednesday⠀ ©2014⠀ ⠀ #meetingsinthesun #bidroom #africansafari #africa #southafrica #southernafrica #africanexperience #afrika #zuidafrika #safariinafrica #safaritrip #krugernationalparksouthafrica #kruger #wildlife_vision #wildlifeplanet #elephantsafari #bigfive #swaziland #kingdomofswaziland #loves_africa #wu_africa #ig_africa #igs_africa #hot_shotz #travel #bestvacations #mytravelgram #nationalgeographic #africanamazing⠀
According to the BBC, a baby elephant by the name Mosha was given a prosthetic limb in 2016 after stepping on a landmine on the Thai and Myanmar border; giving her a new chance at life.
It is unclear whether or not safari workers can do anything to help this elephant.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.