To the Voi Keepers’ knowledge, who undertake motorized regular patrols in order to monitor our ex orphans now living wild, Emily must still have been within the boundary of Tsavo East National Park when she was arrowed either on, or around, the 4 May, 2010, the arrow penetrating deep into her rump. Fortunately, the arrow was not coated in poison, but one designed for smaller game such as the antelopes, no doubt fired by a bushmeat poacher within the Park. Emily needed help, and she knew it, for when the Keepers spotted her that evening, she and her group were already making their way back in the direction of the Stockades.
The Vet attached to our Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit was instantly alerted regarding this worrying development, as were we in Nairobi. Orphan Emily is a world celebrity, the star of many documentaries on our orphans, and known worldwide having appeared on the television screens of almost every country. Moreover, she evolved into the main Matriarch for the Tsavo orphans in the wake of the original Eleanor, was hand-reared in the Nursery from the tender age of just 1 month, and was now in her seventeenth year, and the proud mother of a wild born baby named Eve, born on the 10th December 2008, whom she proudly brought back to show her human family i.e.the Keepers who had been with her until she chose to make the transition into the wild herds. In fact, little Eve was born not far from the Stockades, where Emily was attended by two wild elephant midwives, and, of course, all the females within her now wild unit. It was only when the wild midwives left that she brought little Eve back to share with the Keepers based at the Voi Stockades.
Dr. Poghorn, the Vet attached to the Tsavo Mobile Unit, assembled all that was necessary to operate on her the next morning, and along with the Keepers waited for Emily’s return to the Stockades. Once there, her baby along with one of the Nannies, Sweet Sally was encouraged into the Stockades and shut in during her mother’s operation, knowing that she could prove disruptive during the procedure.
Emily was duly immobilized with M99 and Dr. Poghorn got to work, photographed during the process by the visiting National Geographic team who are compiling a story on our orphans for the magazine. The arrow was deep and an incision had to be made in order to remove it. Thereafter the wound was cleaned, and dressed, and Emily received a long-acting antibiotic injection to aid recovery before being resuscitated. Soon she was up on her feet again, and reunited with baby Eve, whom Emily brought back to the Voi Stockades during the severe drought of 2009 when her milk yield began to fail and her calf was dying. It was very gratifying to see little Eve again a plump and happy baby, for Tsavo has been blessed with plentiful rain since that devastating drought that almost took her life, and did take the life of hosts of other wild elephant babies as well as many adults.
Having dealt with Emily, and noticing that orphan Irima’s old wound was still showing signs of sepsis, Dr. Poghorn immobilized Irima again to take a closer look . Irima is part of Emily’s ex orphans herd who also returned with a wound on his bottom several weeks ago and while nothing was found inside the wound it had not yet healed completely. Luckily, even with the second operation nothing was found still imbedded in Irima’s flesh, and in fact on closer inspection the wound was healing well from within, so Irima was resuscitated, having had the wound cleaned out again and antibiotics administered.
All the orphans then enjoyed a hand-out of Copra, and a leisurely time around the Stockades, their base in Tsavo where they know they can always get help whenever needed. It is a comfort for us to know that they know where to come when in need and over the years they have done so, either with arrows imbedded in their bodies, snares around their legs, or in the case of the bulls, suppurating tusk wounds inflicted during tests of strength of in play fighting.
Emily’s wound is healing well. Please help support our antipoaching efforts within the Tsavo Conservation Area by donating directly online through this link: www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/is/donate_now_desnaring.asp