A miracle is unfolding at the Nairobi Elephant Nursery and the name of that miracle is Murera, a young female elephant, who owes her life to Mr. Piers Winkworth, the Manager of the Offbeat Safaris Tented Camp in Northern Kenyas Meru National Park. His Camp Guides reported the presence of this lone young elephant who over the past few days had been lying in grass at the same place. They could see that she had great difficulty getting up and was severely wounded, something that so upset their passenger clientele, that Mr. Winkworth brought her predicament to our notice and drove to Park Headquarters to seek permission and the help of Rangers to rescue the calf. Meanwhile, he had Emailed us a picture of the calf and we could see that she was just over two years of age, and as such still milk dependent. This was on the 21st February 2012. By 4 p.m. that day Murera had been safely captured and driven to the Meru Mulika Lodge airfield, where the chartered Caravan aircraft dispatched from Nairobi to collect her, had landed and was waiting.
By 7 p.m. she was safely back in the Nursery, but far too wild for us to be able to assess the nature and extent of her injuries that night. We could, however, see that she was severely incapacitated, barely able to put the right foot to the ground, which was hugely swollen, while the right back leg had been rendered totally dysfunctional by what appeared to be either a dislocated or broken hip. Clearly, her injuries were extremely severe. That night she took water and a little milk, but collapsed the next day and had to be put on intravenous life support. This enabled us to take a closer look at the injured foot of one foreleg, which had deep suppurating holes clean through the sole, obviously caused by having trodden on the concealed poisoned spikes of an Elephant Trap hidden on an elephant trail a particularly gruesome and cruel method of poaching designed to render an elephant immobile so that it can be easily traced and killed for its ivory. The wounds were syringed with a saline solution to clear the sepsis, (of which there was gallons) and then packed with antibiotic ointment and healing green clay. Meanwhile, the Vet was able to take a look at the paralyzed right back leg, which was also hugely swollen, but, he thought, not actually broken. Obviously, however, there had been extensive nerve, ligament and tendon damage but with no portable local X-ray equipment capable of penetrating the density of elephant skin and flesh, there was no way of knowing. The prognosis for recovery was never encouraging, and the suffering so severe that he did not rule out the wisdom of putting a humane end to this through euthanasia..
Intravenous Life Support restored Mureras consciousness, and with the assistance of the Keepers, she was lifted back to an upright position. The agony she was enduring was heartrending to have to witness, but she accepted milk from a handheld bottle. Equally as worrying was her body language for she was obviously sinking into deep depression, reluctant to lie down due to an inability to get up again unaided. The other Nursery elephants were brought to her to try and comfort her, but there was little they could do to cheer her up, other than extend their trunks to touch her gently, and rumble their concern. Gentle Orwa, who himself was still recovering having arrived more dead than alive, was given the task of providing company for her daily, so that she was never alone. For days she just stood propped against the railings of her Stockade, her demeanour evident of her depression and suffering. We ordered that the door to her Stockade be opened so that she would know that she was not a prisoner, even though she was barely able to move and this single, simple action made the world of difference. Immediately, she brightened up even though she could barely shuffle out. Orwa could come closer to comfort her now, and she knew she was not held captive. The incentive to heal was now there. Gradually, she became accustomed to the Keepers who brought her milk three hourly, and who were able to clean and re-dress the spiked foot whenever exhaustion overtook her and she slept. The forefoot gradually healed sufficiently for her to put weight on it again, but the back leg remained paralyzed and hugely swollen, with a large abscess developing near the anal opening, painful to the touch. Periodic assessments by the Vets left us with little hope that this elephant could ever be whole again but being Naturalists, we had seen Natures natural powers of recovery, even though this was obviously going to be a long haul. For an animal like an Elephant, who is so human in many ways, and who has a life expectancy of three score years and ten (the same as a human), it was an easy decision for us. Whatever it took, we would heal Murera and give Nature the time needed to do so. By now, she definitely wanted to live and had settled into her daily routine. A kind Osteopath named Nav Matharu of the Divinity Foundation offered her healing expertise free of charge, and came twice weekly to massage Mureras injured limb. Homeopathic Healing remedies, and Turmeric in her three hourly milk ration helped, and she tolerated the gentle massaging Nav administered. The abscess near her anus ripened and softened so that the Vet could lance it and release gallons of poison, and this obviously brought relief. Days passed into weeks, and then three long months, but the swelling on Mureras leg began to subside, and the wasted hip slowly filled out. Once the foot was healed, she was able to shuffle out of the confines of her Stockade, in order to browse nearby, and enjoy the company of the other elephants who came twice daily to see and rumble to her, dragging her paralyzed back leg. Orwa remained steadfast in Murera-Duty healing himself all the while until he felt well enough to leave her in order to enjoy the noon mudbath with the others. Murera understood, and the Keepers treated her to a mud anointing, so that she too was not left out.
Today, it is evident that Murera is getting some movement back in that back leg. She can put it to the ground and move it forward a little to steady her shuffle and she can go further afield than before, on a daily basis, enjoying the company of the others. Her body condition has improved and she is happy. The miracle is unfolding. Murera will one day be whole again, thanks to Natures powers of recovery aided and abetted by natural homeopathic remedies and the healing of Turmeric powder added to her milk. She is a beautiful and loving Elephant. Mr. Piers Winkworth can be proud of saving this precious life, because, were it not for him, she would never have been found and saved, instead probably torn asunder by predators, or killed by poachers due to the greed of thoughtless humans who covet an ivory tooth and by so doing are responsible for so much pain and suffering. Mureras story mirrors the best of human nature, and the injuries the suffered, the worst! Our ability to rescue and care for orphaned elephants like Murera, so that they might be afforded a second chance at life in the wild when grown, is reliant on contributions from a compassionate global public. Any amount you feel able to give today helps us provide for the orphans in our care and those other elephants in need of our help http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/html/help.html Thank you