Alamaya; From a she to a he!

Alamaya was rescued from the Maasai Mara late on the evening of 17th March 2015, found alone, Alamaya arrived to our Nursery in darkness, with terrible wounds to the genital area caused by a Hyena, which had also bitten off Alamaya’s tail! At first glance, Alamaya was perceived to be a female elephant and so that is how it remained

However as the days and weeks passed, the keepers started to think she might actually be a he, given how Alamaya would urinate and other signs in behaviour, that they might usually attribute to males.

Over the same period we carefully treated the wounds to the genital area and thanks to the incredible healing properties of natural green clay, the injuries healed. However Alamaya was showing signs of struggling to urinate as scar tissue narrowed the urethra and so the decision was taken to undertake a sensitive operation for our vets. Beginning just after 9.30am on 3rd July, Alamaya was anaesthetised by KWS veterinary officer Dr. Mjele, who with his team very carefully monitored Alamaya’s breathing and strength throughout what transpired to be a 2 hour operation.

What the vets identified did not surprise the keepers, their suspicions were correct, Alamaya was in fact a male elephant! The frightening fact being that the wounds to the genital area had been so severe, this could not have been known without internal examination. The vets carefully continued with the operation and when they identified the urethra they were able to allow a build-up of urine to escape in some quantity. They then inserted a catheter and around this inserted and stitched into place a plastic cylinder, through which Alamaya would be able to pass urine without any discomfort. This cylinder will also act to ensure that as the surgical incisions from the operation heal, the scar tissue would not again form around the urethra and prevent Alamaya from urinating properly.

Alamaya was brought around from his operation and that afternoon was back out with the orphans in the bush. Understandably there is some post-operative swelling, however the vets are very encouraged by the outcome of the operation. A true sadness of events is that Alamaya will never be able to mate, his penis having been chewed off by the Hyena, however it may be a blessing that he is not a she. For as an adult female, males would have sought to mount and mate Alamaya and already the prospect of this had ben causing worry for us, even if it had been more than 10 years away. That he is a male, means this will not be the case. He will sadly not be able to father his own offspring, however the vets can see no reason why he will not otherwise be able to live a fully fulfilled life back in the wild when grown. 

We are grateful to all the team that assisted in the operation, and especially Dr. Sanjay and Dr. Mjele, for their efforts in carrying out such a delicate and intricate operation. 

Alamaya can be fostered through our online Fostering Program and his full profile can be read here.