Kithaka’s Sprain and Sojourn at ‘Hotel Ithumba’

Published on the 27th of September, 2022

Kithaka was one of the smallest orphans we have ever rescued — but as we noted in his original rescue story, the newborn was “a real character, larger than life and full of attitude.”

Kithaka coming home for help

Over the past 11 years, not much has changed! If anything, Kithaka’s outsized personality has only continued to bloom. His Ithumba family knows him as a hopeless rogue, always plotting some disruption or other.

It was a natural evolution that the mischief maker would become the ringleader. In 2019, Kithaka decided he was ready to explore his independence. He also realised that this would be a lot more fun with friends by his side, so he encouraged several of his peers to join him on wild excursions. The Keepers named this group the ‘rebel herd,’ because they really gave everyone the runaround. Kithaka was lead rebel, dodging the Keepers at bedtime and pulling impromptu disappearing acts whenever it struck his fancy. By 2020, he had fully transitioned from our care, although he remained a familiar face around Ithumba.

To our surprise, he saw himself into a stockade, knowing he needed R&R

Given how zealous he was about claiming his independence, the Keepers were surprised when Kithaka strode up to the stockades on the afternoon of 24th July 2022. He often comes for fleeting visits, but this time, he set up camp and didn’t leave.

It was immediately evident that Kithaka had come seeking help. His hind leg was swollen and he was walking with a pronounced limp. The Keepers prepared a stockade with plenty of greens, lucerne, and pellets, so he could convalesce in peace. Later that week, our SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit came by to give him a thorough exam. Dr Limo concluded that Kithaka was suffering from a sprain and advised plenty of rest until he healed.

In fact, Kithaka was a model patient

We received this news with trepidation. After all, Kithaka is a notoriously active elephant. (No doubt his sprain was sustained during one of his many misadventures!) We fully expected him to give us the runaround, as he has done for much of his life.

Much to our delight, however, Kithaka has been a model patient. In fact, he seems to be thoroughly enjoying his sojourn at ‘Hotel Ithumba.’ During the day, he takes short strolls around the compound, testing his mobility but never overtaxing himself. At night, he sees himself into his stockade, without any encouragement from the Keepers.

It took several months, but Kithaka's condition steadily improved

Despite his limited mobility, Kithaka still manages to cause his fair share of mischief. He always has one eye beadily fixed on the lucerne store, plotting a heist. Never mind that we always set out a feast just for him; he is determined to steal more than his fair share!

While time works its magic, Kithaka has everything he needs at Ithumba to assist his recovery. He showed excellent judgement by coming home to convalesce, as this would be a difficult injury to contend with during a drought.

Kithaka venturing out to socialise with a wild bull

For as long as he needs it, we will support him with secure accommodations, plenty of food and water, and on-demand veterinary care. Kithaka, for his part, will keep everyone entertained with his incessant antics.

We will keep you updated on his ongoing recovery!

Kithaka in September 2023, looking much improved

An Update on Kithaka | September 2023

We are happy to report that, one year on from his injury, Kithaka is doing very well. After spending several months convalescing at Ithumba as his sprained leg healed, he finally felt ready to re-embark upon his wild life in December 2022. He remains a frequent visitor around Ithumba, usually in the company of his best friend, Barsilinga, or the likes of Sana Sana, Kauro, Malkia, and Kamok. We have noticed that Kithaka now often stands a distance away from larger congregations of wild elephants and ex-orphans, no doubt to reduce the risk of getting hurt in any pushy shenanigans. Although he is still limping slightly, the swelling in his leg has massively reduced and he doesn't seem to have any trouble getting around.

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