The death of Mweiga on the evening of the 22nd December has caused immense grief to all, especially the Keepers and elephants within the Voi Unit. She was deeply cherished, and loved by all. She collapsed on her way back to the Stockades with faithful Burra at her side, having shown no sign of weakness throughout the day, and having had a wonderful day feeding out in the bush when food and water is plentiful everywhere. She had even shown some improvement following the Stem Enhancement treatment, but obviously her faulty heart simply could not cope with the strain of having to pump so much blood around such a large body. Mweiga was in her l0th year, so she enjoyed l0 good and very happy years, that would otherwise have been denied her, and us, and above all a quick and apparently painless end, encompassed by love and concern to the last. At no time during her life was she ever on her own, even though all her elephant colleagues were now free spirits, and no longer human dependent. However, they themselves voluntarily ensured that each and every day one of their number was there to accompany her, both during the day and also in the Stockade at night. She was the anchor back at base that helped us learn so much about elephant care and compassion which without her to bring them back, we would never have been able to witness. Rest in peace precious Mweiga. You will live in the hearts of all who knew you, forever.
Burra was on Mweiga duty from the lst December until the llth, when Seraa and Thoma took over, joined by Icholta, who came alone on the 14th to join them, and was with them until the l9th, not always sleeping inside the Stockade with them, but turning up early to escort them out for the day. Then on the 20th Natumi’s entire group arrived and Burra again took over from Icholta, Seraa and Thoma, to resume Mweiga sitting duties. On that particular day, the 20th, l5 lions turned up focusing on the young elephants, but retreated when they saw that they were with their Keepers.
Natumi’s group have been regularly keeping in touch. They arrived early on the 2nd, and spent a wonderful day together with Mweiga and Burra, turning up early again the next day, but only after Burra and Mweiga had already left, so they missed them on that occasion. However, on that day Burra and Mweiga met up with two large wild elephant cows, and the Keepers report that Mweiga was very happy to have been embraced by these two wild adult cows, having been introduced by Burra, who stretched out his trunk to greet them and make first contact before bringing Mweiga up. Natumi’s group were absent from the 5th until the l0th when they brought Seraa and Thoma to take over from Burra, to be joined by Icholta on the 14th. So, during the 16th, 17th, 18th, and l9th Mweiga had the company of Burra, Seraa (who arrived minus her left tusk and only 30 cms. of the right one left) and Icholta until the 20th, when the lions were deterred by the presence of the Keepers. On that particular day Natumi returned with the rest of her group, and went off with Icholta, Seraa and Thoma, leaving Burra to resume Mweiga-sitting duty and Burra was at her side, along with the Keepers, when she stumbled, fell and died on the 22nd. He was deeply disturbed, and returned to the Stockades with the weeping Keepers, but refused to go in for the night, instead running in the direction that Natumi had taken. Later, he joined up with Natumi. Since then, neither he, nor any of the others, have returned to the Stockades, but instead have joined Emily’s unit, forming one large group of all our orphans – proof, if any is needed, that the orphans returned simply to be with Mweiga, and not out of a dependence on their human family. The Voi Stockades are now quiet and eerily empty, with only little Serena, the Zebra foal for the Keepers to escort, but they remain in situ, there for the orphans, should any of their former charges ever need their help. All will know where to come should help be needed, and when the dry season bites again, as it definitely will, we shall no doubt be seeing more of them for they will know that there will be Coconut Copra as a hand-out to help them through until the next rains break again.
Mweiga was buried the next day, on the 23rd December, and there were tears of genuine grief from all her human family, which I am sure was shared by her elephant friends, who would have got the news from Burra, if they did not already know it via telepathic communication. They would all have been happy to have spent time with her a few days previous to her sudden death and it is very telling that none of them have chosen to return to the Stockades since and instead have found comfort being all together within Emily’s unit, as they were before – a herd comprised of 24 orphans from almost every population in Kenya, plus one little foreigner from neighbouring Uganda, namely Mweya.