Published on the 31st of May, 2019
Dololo’s struggle has been a long roller coaster, and at times we feared the worst for this poor little elephant who came into our care in September 2018. On the night of 8th September Dololo fell into a treacherously slippery waterhole on ranch lands outside of Tsavo East National Park, however we feel sure that he was in fact an orphan before then. He was found emaciated, weak and compromised and it is probably because of this that he slipped and fell without the strength to retrieve himself. When Dololo was first discovered his face and much of his body was completely submerged, and in order to breathe he had to use his trunk as a snorkel raised into the air. He must have lain like that for over twelve hours before being saved.
It was the community who first discovered him when they arrived to water their livestock in the morning, and thankfully they cared enough to alert KWS rangers who were based on a nearby ranch. It was the KWS rangers who extracted him from the water and who soon afterwards were joined by Dr. Poghon, the KWS Veterinary Officer seconded to the SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, who on receiving reports immediately travelled to the location of the calf.
Dololo was subsequently flown to the Trust’s Nursery in Nairobi in the SWT’s helicopter; airlifted from close to where he was found directly to the Nursery, removing any additional trauma and cutting down on all important time. Our ability to move him so quickly and smoothly helped enormously, because he certainly didn’t have the reserves for a more arduous rescue.
For the SWT Nursery Team this was the beginning of a difficult journey which took many months. On arrival Dololo’s eyes were an oozing mess and remained bad for weeks. This was because they had been under putrid water for so many hours, becoming heavily infected by the time he arrived. He was already thin, but the whole ordeal took its toll and additional weight fell off him until he was little more than skin and bones. He was riddled in parasites but we needed him to regain strength before this could be addressed for fear of compromising him further.
As is so often the case with starvation victims, he began to collapse regularly and each time required IV fluids to seep life back into his ravaged body. This happened over and over again and the Keepers were required to keep a strict vigil while on night duty to ascertain what was sleep and what was a more serious hypoglycemic coma. He developed sores all over his body as his skin peeled, so for months Dololo was in a desperately sorry state, and it was a very long time before he began to grow stronger and resemble an elephant rather than some boney apparition.
For us at the Nursery it is satisfying indeed, now nine months on, to look at Dololo and marvel at his remarkable recovery, now rotund with fat cheeks, his skin texture perfect once more. Dololo is now beginning to resemble what he must have looked like before his world fell apart. He has settled very well and appears to be incredibly happy in the midst of his many friends, and he’s a beautifully gentle elephant who loves his human family enormously.
Perhaps knowing that without their support he would never have made it, as he quite literally beat the odds, though this was largely down to his own fierce will to live. It gives us great pleasure to have breathed life back into this special boy who we feel sure will grow into a magnificently handsome bull one day, and in the meantime we enjoy the time he is on loan to us while he gathers the tools he will need for this future life in the wild.