Tumaren, as our Elephant had become known, spent the night in Hassan’s room at our main Office/Camp. She had a very long night pacing and bellowing in a shriek-type call i can only compare to the noises Dynosaurs make in hollywood films. Because she was under the same corrugated iron roof as everybody else it was a long night for all. Our original plan was to keep her window open so that she could check on me in my bed that i had set just beneath it. I had gone with this idea rather than sleeping inside the room because Tumaren was still quite feisty and she would have squashed me while i slept. The problem though that i found just as i was saying goodnight to Tumaren through the window was made quite clear as she launched both front feet up onto the sill and used her head and trunk to drag the rest of her body up so that she was teetering on the sill, trying to escape completly. Now i found myself in the strange position of wrestling an elephant alone at night in a window. I screamed for help. With the assistance of Leshilling and Tation we were able to get Tumaren back into the room. We then had to seal the window to prevent any further escapes.
After about 2 am Tumaren calmed a bit and while he kept pacing he stopped screaming. I got up every few hours to look in on him and allow him to smell me and be reassured.
In the morning we made a plan with some Kenya Wildlife Service representives to inspect Tumaren’s mum and get the go-ahead to send Tumaren to the orphanage in Nairobi. Mr. Dixon Too, Senior Warden for Laikipia and Senior Elephant Programme Co-ordinator Mr. Moses Litoroh.
After having a look at Tumaren’s mother they concluded, as we did the day before, that she should be put down. Afterward, It was a releif to know that she was no longer in pain and it was also good that we had removed Tumaren the night before so that she was not present at such a horrible moment.
As soon as we we able to, we called The Sheldrick Trust to notify them that Tumaren was ready for pick up. When back at the office we entered Tumaren’s room to calm her a bit before moving her. She was drinking well and even eating soft grasses that we picked for her.
After tying her legs, placing a blanket on her head and wetting down her skin a bit we drove Tumaren on her side to the Kimanjo Airstrip. From there she was picked up by a Boskovitch Airways Flight and brought successfully to the Orphanage.
We will keep you all up on Tumaren’s news as she fits in with the other orpahns. We are told to expect that she will loose some condition in the next week as she deals with the stress but that she should begin to regain condition after that period. Good Luck Tumaren!
Yesterday afternoon we received a report from one of our returning walking safari teams that they had passed a dying mother Elephant with one small young. The guys said that the elephant had appeared like it was sleeping but it was shortly realized that it could not stand up even as it struggled with the fear of approaching humans. Our team left the mother and young and returned to our camp to report what they had found. We jumped in the car and found this sad scene, the young female nibbling on her mums ear and appearing stressed and worried.
After deciding that the mother had a very short while to live, we decided to take the young Elephant to our camp rather than risk an almost certain death at night by Lion or Hyena. When we approached the little ele tried to defend her mum which was very heart breaking.
After a bit of a struggle we got the little elephant to the ground tied her feet and covered her eyes with a blanket to reduce stress. We then drove her to our camp where we lodged her in Hassan’s room.
With orphaned baby elephants it is important to reduce stress (as much as humanly possible), retain warmth and keep fluids up. This is why we had to keep the blanket on our little friend and also why I remained inside her room for long periods of time so that she would become accustomed to us and to realize that we were not going to threaten or kill her. To begin with she would ram me with incredible power into the wall. I learned to use the mattress below to divert her from squashing me completely matador style and then stroke and comfort her so that she knew that i was not going to harm her.
Conclusion of our long night to be told tomorrow as i slept very little last night. In the course of the evening we decided that our little friend should be named Tumaren.
It is too easy to give animals human attributes, particularly when you have an animal dealing with the death of one of its own. Yet the following pictures, that were taken over a 24 hour period after a young female elephant’s death, are compelling and leave little doubt that animals mourn.
In the next two shots the mother lies down beside her calf and sleeps for several hours. At this point the young Elephant had been dead for more than 12 hours.
In the past month a number of Elephants in our area have died of a strange, yet undiagnosed (atleast by us) disease. Our tracker Leshilling Lemanyass says that he has seen this problem with Elephants many times and that he suspects it effects their stomach and digestion. We have found two sick animals on us both of whom appeared to have trouble passing their manure (legs spread in a prolonged and uncomfortable looking way). Our guys who work for us as Rangers and as trackers on our safaris have also described skin problems corresponding with this disease. If anyone knows anything about this disease which has been killing many elephants in the greater Laikipia / Samburu area we would love to know the what it is. These sad pictures are of a young female that we found this morning as it was dying. Its mother was still guarding it and it was only for a few minutes that we were able to get to her. We assumed that she was already dead but she was still breathing but with no movement from any other part of her body besides her blinking eyelid. Very sad.
This is an image of the mother and matriarch guarding the body: