On 6 July 2016 our Ithumba Keepers were shocked when ex-orphan Makireti returned to the Ithumba Stockade with a poisoned arrow lodged in her side. Barbs on the arrow prevented it from being easily extracted by the keepers so the DSWT/KWS Tsavo Vet, Dr. Poghon, was contacted. Given that Makireti is an elephant with just one small tusk, the second never having grown, made this incident all the more perplexing. That night, Makireti was kept inside the Stockades and the following morning, 7 July 2016, Neville Sheldrick, one of DSWT’s bush pilots flew to collect Dr. Poghon from the MWCT Research Centre where he had been collaring a problem lion. Dr. Poghon was collected at 07.50 and taken to Ithumba, where Benjamin was waiting to pick them up from the airstrip and take them to the Stockade where Makireti was awaiting treatment.
By this stage Makireti’s friends had congregated around the stockade to visit her, very aware and concerned about her predicament, namely Olare, Melia, Kibo, Tumaren, Kandecha, Kalama, Chemi Chemi, Murka, Kitirua and Naisula (Olare's herd). Her own special friends that are part of Olare’s splinter group, namely Kilabasi and Kasigau, were present while Chaimu, Kilaguni and Mutara’s herd (Mutara, Suguta, Kanjoro, Turkwel, Kainuk and Sities) were also there.
By the time Dr. Poghon arrived, some of the ex-orphans had peeled away leaving Kilabasi and Kibo to babysit Makireti. Dr. Poghon immediately set to work preparing his dart after which Makireti was darted and immobilized inside the Stockade. Shortly after, she fell asleep still upright, so the team had to just push her over gently so that treatment could commence. Kibo then stood beside her for the entire duration of the treatment, touching her with his trunk and gently nudging her with his foot to try and wake her up, but did not disturb the team treating her, knowing that she was being helped. The dart was removed with some difficulty as it had hit a rib and bent on impact. It was, however, fortuitist that the arrow had hit a rib, because the injury would have been much more serious had the arrow pierced the chest cavity.
The wound appeared to be very fresh, with no infection and as recently dried blood had seeped from the wound it is thought that she had been arrowed only the day before. The motive for shooting her is unclear as she only has one very short tusk visible. Our antipoaching teams have been extremely active prior to the incident, with another team brought in to comb the Northern Area following this incident, setting an ambush and arresting a poacher the following day. Once Makireti woke up, she remained with her friends Kibo and Kilabasi close to the stockades, but by midday she was feeling normal again and opted to remain with the independent ex-orphans, rather than returning to the Stockades with the dependent group. Her wound is healing beautifully, thanks to the timely treatment she was able to receive, and Makireti will thankfully be perfectly fine.