Keepers' Diaries, December 2007

Voi Reintegration Unit

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.

01 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga left early and spent the whole day feeding, not having to walk far, since there is green vegetation for the taking everywhere following rain.

02 December 2007

Natumi’s group came to the Stockades early in the morning to fetch Mweiga and Burra, welcomed exuberantly and with great excitement, as usual. They had a very happy time at the waterhole where Mweya showed off her diving abilities. They then foraged towards the Northern side of Mazinga Hill, until Burra and Mweiga separated from the others near the Pipeline road, and returned to the Stockades, feeding as they went along.

03 December 2007

Natumi’s group arrived shortly after Burra and Mweiga had left, after which they hung around for a while, feeding on the slopes of Mazinga Hill. Meanwhile Mweiga and Burra were joined by two wild elephant cows, and enjoyed feeding alongside them. Burra stretched his trunk towards the big cow in a social touch on the cheeks before moving in to feed with them. Mweiga felt so happy being in amongst this wild group, remaining with them until it was time to return in the evening.

04 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga left early, and enjoyed a day feeding with intermittent rain showers. They did not meet up with Natumi’s unit today.

05 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga fed alone, without meeting up with the others.

06 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga fed alone, without meeting up with the others.

07 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga fed alone, without meeting up with the others.

08 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga fed alone, without meeting up with the others.

09 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga fed alone, without meeting up with the others.

10 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga fed alone, without meeting up with the others.

11 December 2007

Mweiga and Burra left the Stockades early as usual. Later, Natumi’s group arrived for a drink. It was noticed that Seraa had lost her left tusk and part of the right one, which was now only about 30 cms. Long. Burra went off with Natumi’s group today, leaving Seraa and Thoma on “Mweiga-Sitting” duty. The two remained outside the Stockade, but close by all night.

12 December 2007

Thoma and Seraa came to collect Mweiga early in the morning, and the three elephants had a wonderful day together. Thoma and Seraa brought Mweiga back in the evening, and spent the night in the Stockade with her. Mweiga was so happy to be with them in the Stockade.

13 December 2007

The three orphans left for the feeding grounds early. It was a hot day, so at noon they enjoyed the mudbath very much. In the afternoon they entertained students on a Sheldrick Trust Field Outing, which is part of the Trust’s community outreach programme.

14 December 2007

Icholta turned up early this morning, and escorted Mweiga, Seraa and Burra to the waterhole for a drink. In the evening Icholta came back to the Stockades with the others, but did not go in with them for the night. Instead, she went up Mazinga Hill to feed.

15 December 2007

Icholta came down to fetch the others in the morning. They four orphans spent the next four days feeding together, (15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th),Icholta coming down from the hill early each day to escort the others out.

20 December 2007

As usual, Icholta came down the hill to collect the other three orphans and escort them out to feed. Just before returning in the evening, a pride of around 15 lions approached Mweiga’s group, but shied off upon seeing the Keepers. Natumi’s group joined the others on the way back, and all returned to the Stockades, where Natumi’s group took a drink. Natumi’s group left later, taking Icholta, Seraa, and Thoma with them, and leaving Burra back with Mweiga, who spent the night with her in the Stockades.

21 December 2007

Burra and Mweiga left early for the feeding grounds, plucking green leaves as they went and scratching themselves against rocks. They did not need a mudbath today, since the grass was moist from a light shower that started in the morning. They returned in the evening, not having joined up with Natumi’s group.

22 December 2007

It was a fateful day for the Keepers, who could not hold back their tears upon seeing Mweiga collapse on the way back to the Stockades in the evening. She had a very successful feeding day accompanied by Burra, without showing any noticeable sign of weakness. She took a normal rest under a tree in the afternoon. When she fell, the Keepers thought that her legs must have become entangled in a creeper, so rushed to assist her, but noticed that she was too weak to help herself in getting up. The situation was engulfed in confusion and disbelief for 15 minutes before she died. Burra was watching closely, and returned to the Stockades with the Keepers, before raising his trunk, and running towards the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill where he joined Natumi’s group. He never returned to the Stockades that night.

23 December 2007

It was a very sad day as all the Keepers assembled for the burial of Mweiga early in the morning, all discussing what possibly could have caused her sudden death at a time when she appeared so much better and was so happy. None of the other orphans returned to the Stockades on that day, obviously knowing that Mweiga was no longer there.