A case was reported to the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit of an injured baby elephant still with its mother on Taita Ranch abutting Tsavo. What unfolded in the following days was a distressing tragedy for all to witness.
Arriving at the site on Sunday 21st July 2013 the vet unit found an 8 month old female elephant calf which was crawling on the ground to keep close to her mother, her front foreleg swollen three times its normal size whilst her hind leg on the same side was limp and useless. The baby had clearly suffered a dramatic trauma. Ones immediate reaction pointed to a possible collision with a vehicle, but on closer inspection there was no indications of this, such as bruising or lesions on the rest of the body.
The sad decision had to made to take the calf from her mother as clearly she would not have survived the night and it was clear for all to see that serious veterinary intervention would be necessary for any hope of recovery. The calf was therefore driven in the late afternoon to the Voi stockades in Tsavo East National Park and was put into the taming stockade next to where Mbirikani has been making her recovery. There the new calf stood immobile, unable to move without falling over, but she did take both milk and water, and was clearly comforted by the presence of Mbirikani next door.
The next day she was airlifted to Nairobi where an x-ray machine, kindly donated to the DSWT, was used to assess the calfs internal injuries. Surprisingly to all the hugely swollen front leg appeared clear of any obvious break, yet the femur of the back leg was snapped in two. The break was so extreme that any hope of recovery was absent, beside which the suffering of this calf was so severe that even the elephant Keepers, for the first time ever, wished that she be put out of her pain. This decision was not taken lightly and came with a lot of advice and support from different veterinarians and specialists. So with a heavy heart, little Duruma, as she had since been named after the area in which she was found, was laid to rest. The reason for her terrible injuries were never clear and will remain forever a mystery.