Murka, is the name of the orphaned elephant savagely mutilated by Masai tribesmen outside the boundaries of Tsavo West National Park near Rombo, and who was rescued on the 7th July 2010. She was brought back to the Voi Stockades with the blade of a spear imbedded 8 inches into the honeycomb bone of her forehead, its hardened steel shaft forcefully bent backwards parallel to her back as she escaped her brutal attackers through wooded terrain. She also suffered deep axe and spear wounds on the hind side of her body.
Possibly, her elephant mother had been poached for her ivory tusks, and Murka had been with the body, giving the poachers a hard time as they hacked out the tusks, so they vented their wrath on the baby who was still with her. The real story behind her mutilation is not know. That humans, and especially Masai tribesmen, who have the reputation of being more animal friendly than most other tribes, could have perpetrated such a savage attack on a baby elephant, beggars belief. But they did, either because they wanted to drive her from her dead mother, or else in revenge for having their livestock expelled from the Park. Murka is not the first elephant maimed or killed for that reason ever since Masai livestock have been illegally infiltrating Tsavo in large numbers.
The Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit based in Tsavo East, headed now by Dr. Poghorn, had to remove the spear under sedation from Murka’s head at the Voi Stockades once she had been captured. This left her with a sizeable hole between her eyes through which her breath escaped. Obviously immense damage had been inflicted on the sinuses, and the trunk had lost the power of suction as a result, meaning that she was unable to draw up water. The body wounds were severe and deep. infested with maggots. Having removed the spear blade from her head, Dr. Poghorn did what he could to clean the horrendous wounds on her body. That night Murka spent in the Voi Stockades until she could be airlifted to the Nursery the next morning (8th July 2010).
We were appalled by what now confronted us! Not since an orphan called Ziwani had we had an orphaned elephant so brutally maimed. Murka was nearer two years of age than one, and, understandably detested all humans, bent on trying to kill everyone that came in view, and who could blame her! There was nothing we could do until she collapsed, which we knew was just a matter of time. Repeatedly she charged whoever passed by her Stockade, crashing into the bars and Gate which must have inflicted even more pain to her damaged head. When she did eventually collapse, a life supporting Dextrose drip was inserted intravenously into an ear vein, and only then were we able to closely assess the damage. It was so horrendous that we even contemplated removing the life support to spare this baby further suffering, doubtful that she could possible survive such horrendous injuries and if she did, whether she would be able to endure the pain involved in long weeks of cleaning and healing.
There were no dry eyes as we discussed this with the Keepers, who, like us, were ashamed and appalled that Kenyans could have willfully inflicted such cruel injuries on a helpless baby elephant. But, they were adamant that Murka must be afforded a chance of life, and so the intravenous life support remained in situ throughout that first night. Her wounds were all syringed out with hydrogen peroxide and Bettadine to rid them of the maggots, pints of yellow pus exuding from all, including the deep hole in her head..
By morning, Murka was back on her feet, and the Keepers in with her taking were seeking refuge on the raised platform within the “Taming Stockade”, for she was determinedly after them, bent on revenge. But, she needed a full course of antibiotic injections to forestall pneumonia and help her body to heal and this entailed forcefully overpowering her again every day for another 6 days. None of which helped tame her down. However, she was so desperately thirsty and hungry that she took milk and water offered from a bucket held against the door to her Stockade, having initially smashed into it in a further attempt at retribution.
This pattern of behaviour went on thereafter, the elephant having to be sedated or forcibly overpowered in order to clean and anoint her wounds, which happened twice a week at most. However, she ate cut browse put in her stable, but it was the milk that was all important to survival, for being under two years of age she was still very much milk dependent.
After a week, the stomach parasites appeared in her stool, and we risked introducing the De-Wormers into her milk, which got rid of them. Still aggressively wild she wanted nothing to do with any human but was interested in the other orphans, who were fed their milk close by. As they interacted with their Keepers, we hoped she might be persuaded to accept them as friends as opposed to the foes that had wounded her so savagely.
On the l0th day we let out hoping that the other orphans would calm her down, but instantly she fled, hotly pursued by the Keepers, who managed to catch up with her, surround her and muscle her back into the Stockade. There she remained incarcerated for yet another l0 days before we could risk letting her out again, and in the meantime we began to wonder whether this elephant would ever calm down sufficiently to be able to handle. Dressing the wounds twice weekly had to be done under sedation, the Stressnil administered by remote control, the syringe attached to a long pole. Once most of the sepsis had cleared, the wounds were anointed with just saline and plastered in Green Clay. that miracle cure for all wounds, Green Clay, which originates in the Massif Centrale in France, and is, apparently, fossilized Seaweed. A liberal application of Green Clay moves with the skin, allows the wounds to breathe, and keeps the flies at bay.
When Murka was allowed free for the second time, she joined the other orphans, careful to remain well within their midst, still fearful of the Keepers, but taking her milk from them which she downed hurriedly before retreating again. She also had to be offered water by bottle, unable to draw up water through the trunk due to the hole in her head, through which her breath still escaped. She was deeply suspicious of anyone approaching from the back, obviously remembering the axe and machete wounds inflicted from behind. But, surprisingly, she was not aggressive to the visitors at the orphans’ noon mudbath, much to the surprise of the Keepers, who were fearful that she might react negatively towards them as well.
Gradually, this little elephant, who is now known as Miracle Murka, healed in a truly miraculous way, both psychologically and physically. Today, the axe and machete wounds on her body are no longer even visible, healed by the application of the Green Clay. We attribute Murka’s miraculous recovery to that and saline, with the help, of course, of injectable antibiotic upon arrival and, and the patience and tender loving care of her Keepers. Today, she will suck their fingers and answers to her name. This once extremely aggressive elephant – the most difficult we have ever had to tame – and heal - is now a gentle, loving, and happy member of the Nursery, thriving, playful and plump. Even the hole in her head is gradually closing, and as it does, so the suction ability of her trunk is returning as well, so that now she is beginning to draw up water – albeit only a little at a time, but at least it is a step in the right direction!
We thank all our kind Supporters who through their contributions have helped in the miraculous healing of Murka and enabled us to lavish upon her everything of the best and offer her a second chance of a normal life in the fullness of time.