The sad death of Nelion

Published on the 26th of August, 2020

It is with a heavy heart that we must share with you the very sad news that Nelion, whose journey back to the wild had been realised, has passed away.

Nelion arrived back at our Voi Reintegration Unit, with his independent orphan friends, early morning on the 13th August, just as the sun was rising above the horizon. They were all visibly shaken and on closer inspection the Keepers found Nelion’s rear end had been viciously gnawed by lions.

As a strapping 9 year old elephant, with large, handsome ivory for his age, this was most unexpected and extremely alarming: everyone of course immediately leapt into action. Nelion allowed the Keepers to inspect and tend to his wounds, thoroughly cleaning them, before administering antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and green clay to aid healing. He was kept in the Voi stockades so that his wounds could be regularly treated and later KWS vet Dr Poghon, of the Tsavo Veterinary Unit, performed an operation under anaesthetic. Dr Poghon thoroughly cleaned his injuries again and manually removed stools that Nelion had become unable to pass, as his anus had swollen dramatically from the wounds. Despite his stricken state we never imagined his injuries would prove life threatening, but on the morning of Monday 24th August tragedy struck, as Nelion suddenly collapsed and died. He’d been given laxatives and molasses to soften his stools, however, an autopsy revealed a deep compaction of the gut.

A visual celebration of Nelion over the years

It is impossibly painful to lose an elephant at any age, however, having supported Nelion since his rescue in 2013, when he came into our care almost skeletal due to dehydration and starvation, we were blessed to watch him develop over the years and branch out into a more independent life - the goal for all the orphans we rescue and raise - so his loss is even more difficult to bear. We will miss our beloved friend more than words can express, for he brought us and his orphan elephant family so much joy over the 7 years we were fortunate to know him.

Heartbreakingly, his story has ended far too early, and we are so sorry to have to share such sad and distressing news. Rest in peace our precious boy.

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