Bona fide success story for wildlife warriors

Monday night's Australian Story profiles three young Queenslanders who struggled to import a large quantity of white powder into Indonesia – for all the right reasons.

Amanda French, Murray Munro and Bruce Levick – who once worked at Australia Zoo – helped rescue an orphaned baby elephant from certain death by raising money to buy her special formula.

Bona is now a fat and healthy pachyderm, who has established a relationship with a fully-grown elephant at their Sumatra sanctuary.

“It's one of the most inspiring stories we've seen for a long time, not just because of the baby elephant that they saved, but because of all the hard work that they had to do,” said wildlife campaigner Bob Irwin.

“Just imagine going into a foreign country wanting to import a white powder - that alone is a pretty daunting experience.”

The trio ran a Facebook campaign to raise funds for Bona's special food, as well as awareness of the plight of Sumatran elephants.

The animals' numbers are dwindling due to forests being cleared for palm oil plantations, and it is not uncommon for locals to poison elephants that trample crops during their migration.

Mr Irwin got involved when the trio applied to his Wildlife and Conservation Foundation for funding assistance.

Normally it only grants money for work with Australian animals, but Bona's plight brought back personal memories for Mr Irwin.

The Australian Story episode features moving scenes of the 74-year-old watching archival footage of his son Steve with a baby elephant that was dying of poison.

“He knew that he may very well be the last person to give that little elephant any affection whatsoever,” Mr Irwin said.

“It's a really difficult thing to watch.”

He said he hoped the documentary would inspire more Australians to look after wildlife, both at home and abroad.

“If people can get through it without shedding a few tears, I'll be surprised,” he said.

The story Bona fide success story for wildlife warriors first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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