Compliant Bullet Removal Device for Elephants

A veterinarian approached me a few months ago with the following case:

“I came across an elephant in Myanmar that was shot at by a poacher 12 years ago. Apparently there were still 2 bullets in it, since there were 2 clear fistulas: one horizontal at the shoulder blade (82 cm deep, easily accessible with a flexible 8 mm endoscope, type of smartphone tool) and one above the elbow, 35 cm long, deflecting to ventral. Due to the sharp bend I could unfortunately not insert the endoscope deeper than 6 cm. It would of course be a wonderful challenge to design a scope where tissue can be removed at the end, flushed and the bullet grabbed. Nice to philosophize about maybe …. ”

Despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks. Unfortunately, there has been an upsurge in poaching and illegal ivory trafficking in recent years, which has led to steep declines in forest elephant numbers and some savannah elephant populations. Furthermore, as human populations expand and more land is being converted to agriculture, elephant habitat is shrinking and becoming more fragmented, which leads to more contact between people and elephants. Elephants sometimes raid farmers’ fields and damage their crops – affecting the farmers’ livelihoods – and may even kill people. Elephants are sometimes killed in retaliation.

In this assignment, you will focus on the development of a soft instrument that can be used to remove bullets in poached elephants. Not only will this help the animals that have been shot, but it can also potentially help track down the people that did this to the elephant (by analysing the bullet).

If you are interested in this assignment please contact me.