During a routine patrol on the 28th January, the Keepers came across Solango, escorted by Burra, struggling desperately trying to make his way back home to the stockades on three legs, unable to put any weight on his right back leg, Quite obviously he knew he needed the assistance of his erstwhile human family, still based at the Voi Stockades steering another batch of growing Ex Nairobi Nursery Orphans into adulthood and ultimately back where they belong - amongst their wild kin of Tsavo East National Park. A young Elephant so seriously handicapped would make an easy target for the Tsavo lions.
The Keepers accompanied Solango and Burra on the last leg of what had obviously been a very arduous and long journey back home. As they approached the Stockades they were met by Emily's group. Upon arrival Solango put himself back into the large electrically fenced Stockade where he used to be based whilst still Keeper Dependent. Solango was born in September 2001, and came into the Nairobi Nursery when just 1 month old, orphaned when he fell down a deep rock fissure at a place called “Kasimi Hamisi” in far off Shaba National Reserve. This fissure holds water during the long Northern dry seasons and is where local people bring their livestock to drink at such times, the surrounding rocks worn smoothe by the passage of many hooves and feet down the ages, and obviously hazardous when wet. It was the self same fissure that orphaned “Seraa” , who, like “Solango” fell in and was fortunate to have been found in time by Ian Craig of Lewa Downs who just happened to be in the area at the time.
It is a source of comfort to know that our hand-reared Ex Orphaned Elephants know where to come for help whenever needed, something that has been demonstrated on a number of occasions. Such reasoning on the part of the Elephants may surprise many people who don’t know these highly intelligent, very “human” animals intimately, but it comes as no surprise for us who have reared their orphaned young over the past 50 years, and who have learnt that Elephants are, in fact, just like us, and in many ways, better than us! They have all the best traits of humans and few of the bad, endowed with many abilities that we humans lack such as the ability of telepathic communication, using infrasound to communicate over distance, hear seismic activity through their feet and such like!
Solango had no visible external injury to indicate what had happened to cause such a diability, but the leg was very swollen at the knee joint, and was either fractured, broken or at best seriously sprained. He had obviously traveled from afar, because he was so exhausted that having taken food and water, he lay down and slept solidly for the next 12 hours! When he awoke, the Keepers had to assist him to get up, because he could put no weight on the injured limb and his long journey home had taken a toll of his strength.
We consulted the Vets about what best to do. The consensus of opinion was, nothing!
This type of injury in an elephant was something that only Nature, and time, could heal. Pain management would tempt him to use the injured leg more than was good for it; anti-inflammatories might have an adverse side affect, so the answer obviously lay in harmless specific homeopathic remedies to aid the healing of broken bones and damaged ligaments and muscles. Our very kind Homeopathic Specialist in England, Lesley Suter, told us which remedies to send down for Solango (Symph, Rustox and Ruta plus loads of Arnica and Rescue Remedy)
The good news is that by the end of the first week in February Solango’s injured leg was improving visibly. He could now put it to the ground and was able to move around his enclosure, scratch his body against the huge Boulder in the middle, and feast on supplements such as Copra, Dairy Cubes, Lucerne and natural browse, which is provided for him on a daily basis. He also enjoys the daily company of the 12 Keeper Dependent Youngsters currently based at the Voi Stockades, who spend time with him every morning and evening on their way out into the bush to browse, and on their way back in the evenings. He also enjoys the company of Emily and her brood whenever they return to the Stockades, which recently has been on a regular basis, since they have remained in the area. We are now very hopeful that Nature will again work a miracle, as it has done on many occasions in the past, Murka’s hole in the head from a spear embedded l0 inches into her skull being a good example. Solango is fortunate indeed to have a human family who loves him and is there to help whenever needed. Many wild elephants are not quite so lucky!