Rangers help pull Mshale back up after being treated.

BBCRangers help pull Mshale back up after being treated.

Mshale the bull elephant is the biggest badass ever. The roughly 40-year-old African elephant has now survived the fourth attempt on his life by poachers in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park. That’s an impressive feat, considering that almost 1,500 elephants have died there since 2011, and the poachers have gotten increasingly desperate for Mshale’s $16,000 tusks.

Poachers hit Mshale with a poison arrow in November 2012, but fortunately he made his way to a haven for orphaned elephants where a vet with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust treated him. Recognizing the facility as a source of fresh water, mud baths, and company, Mshale kept coming back to the spot.

Conservation workers kept an eye out for him, too. While on aerial patrol, a pilot from the Trust noticed Mshale limping down below in March 2013, with a gaping wound on his bum. After vets removed two poison arrows, Mshale thanked them with a gaze and headed off, according to the Trust:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

He stood gazing at his human helpers for a few minutes and then with a knowing look he limped back off into the bush.

Mshale suffered and was treated for a third poison arrow wound in August 2013, this time in his neck. Trust staff hadn’t seen him since then, but last month, Mshale staggered back to the mud bath, gaunt and clearly having come a long way. Writes the Trust:

Because he has been treated three times before, and he knows where help lies, we believe Mshale came back despite his poor body condition so that he could be treated and saved one more time.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

His wounds were worse — deep gashes on his neck from spears this time — but once again, vets cleaned him up and he lumbered away. Rangers on aerial patrols are worriedly looking out for Mshale, but they haven’t spotted his body yet (a good sign he’s still alive). We’re rooting for him! (To do something about elephant poaching, check out the African Wildlife Foundation’s work to reduce ivory demand and protect elephants.)

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!