Rescued as a newborn, Ndotto has the distinction of being one of the tiniest orphans to ever come into our care. Even as he grew incrementally in size, his personality expanded by leaps and bounds. Today, he has caught up to his friends in terms of stature, but he remains one of the biggest characters in our Voi herd.
In all our years of raising orphaned elephants, the ordeal we will share below has never occurred before — but if it was going to happen to anyone, of course it would happen to Ndotto!
On the afternoon of 12th September, the Keepers noticed Ndotto fussing over his trunk. This, in and of itself, was no cause for concern: Call it the hazard of a prehensile nose; elephants often get debris stuck in their trunks, but they always manage to dislodge it. Several more minutes elapsed, however, without success. When the Keepers saw Ndotto trying to push his trunk against his tusk — an innovative idea, but counterproductive, as it would just further cement the foreign object in the nasal passage — they decided it was time to intervene.
What they found was quite remarkable. Ndotto had somehow managed to inhale a fairly large stone, which was now lodged about seven inches deep into his trunk. It was stuck fast and almost entirely occluding the right nostril. He was very upset about the whole situation and refused to let anyone help him.
Fortunately, the SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit is based in Voi. Dr Limo walked right up to Ndotto and immobilised him in front of the Voi stockades. The other orphans fanned around, watching proceedings curiously but without any alarm. One might expect them to panic at the sight of their friend lying prone on the ground, but they always intuitively know that we are there to help.
Using long forceps, the team coaxed the offending stone out of the trunk. It had left a very small injury, which was treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Within minutes, Ndotto was back on his feet — minus one very annoying accessory! He has since made a complete recovery.
Ndotto has always been a nosey elephant. It is one of the many things we love about him, but perhaps this event will teach him not to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong!