During the night of January 20th 2009, Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers based near the Ziwani Sisal Estate at the Southern end of Tsavo West National Park heard distressed crying from an elephant coming from the direction of an irrigation canal on the Estate, where many wild animals habitually come to drink. The next day during a routine patrol of the canal area they happened upon a lone elephant calf of about 10 months of age, suffering from multiple knife and spear wounds, no doubt inflicted by one of the Masasi herdsman who illegally graze their livestock in the Park. (Masai have a reputation for trying to prove their manhood by spearing a so-called “dangerous” animal, but this particular thug proved only that which is most evil in a human – heartless callousness, cruelty and cowardice, no doubt deriving pleasure from deliberately mutilating a baby elephant who already has had to undergo the enormous emotional trauma of losing its elephant mother and family).
The Rangers monitored the little elephant for several hours before concluding that it was indeed, an orphan - probably the calf of a dead cow elephant they had come across about a week before. They contacted their Kamboyo Headquarters, who in turn passed the information to Tsavo East and our Elephant Keepers at the Voi Stockades who immediately set off to collect the wounded orphan. Meanwhile, the little elephant, although initially plucking up enough courage to charge the Rangers, was so fearful of being left vulnerably alone again that it followed them back to their base. There they managed to entice it into one of the Staff rooms in order to await the arrival of the rescue team who turned up many hours later having had to travel some 120 miles from their base at Voi.
The orphan was fed formula milk before being bound and loaded onto the waiting Pickup to be driven back to the Voi Stockades. It lay recumbent on a mattress with its legs bound, and was covered by a blanket to protect it from the wind and cool night air. The next morning we in Nairobi were alerted that a plane would be needed, and very soon that rescue was scrambled and the Nairobi Nursery Keepers were on their way to take over the new orphan. Meanwhile, it had been treated in Tsavo by the Vet attached to our Mobile Veterinary Unit who cleaned and dressed its multiple wounds, some of which were deep incisions on the legs, back, the side of the face, with one ear almost sliced in two. Therefore this tragic little elephant, who is female, has a long and painful journey to endure before she is again whole.
We named her “Ziwani” and despite having been treated so cruelly by a human, she has calmed down amazingly quickly, and by the evening of the 21st was gulping down milk and had accepted the Keepers completely. She was happy when all the other Nursery inmates crowded around her Stockade door to greet and welcome her into the fold, which always instills confidence and calms fearful newcomers. The next days were touch and go for this young calf, and it is only through the valiant efforts of Robert Carr-Hartley who along with the Keepers worked tirelessly trying to keep her alive on drips for 48 hours before she eventually could stand once again. Unfortunately, her many wounds which have to be cleaned and dressed on a daily basis, involve much pain, but she understands she is being helped and is so brave. The magic of the green clay, together with injectable penicillin is keeping serious infection at bay and we feel sure she is improving with each passing day. Her pain and discomfort is very difficult to witness and we all feel so strongly about those capable of inflicting this on one so young and vulnerable. We hope and pray that despite her terrible beginning, little Ziwani will grow up amongst another loving elephant and human family and ultimately take her rightful place, back where she belongs.