Washed down the flooded Galana River, tossed around against rocks as he was carried by the raging torrent, eventually ending up in the Generator House of Galdessa Camp on the Galana River in Tsavo East National Park, having lost his elephant loved ones when just 6 weeks old, little “Galdessa”arrived in the Nursery in November 2006, battered, bruised, grief-stricken and a prime candidate for the dreaded pneumonia and internal injuries exacerbated by teething his first molars, which invariably pose a problem for infant African elephants. From the start, he had never thrived and was obviously in pain. Having suffered four bouts of diarrheoa treated by administering the usual Sulphadimidine, he appeared to recover slightly after bout No. 4., but soon the tell-tale signs were back – stools that were too copious, although of the correct consistency, apathy, reluctance to feed and generally “off-colour”. Yet, he was still taking his milk, albeit slowly, until 6 a.m. on the 23rd February 2007, when the Keeper reported blood in the stool. Four large boluses of Sulphadiazide were administered orally, rolled into a soft ball and inserted down his throat; another two inserted up the rectum, and a drip inserted into an ear vein, but two hours later, before the Vet could even reach him, he breathed his last and died.
As usual, there were tears from every member of his human family who had grown to love him deeply, in the 4 months that they had cared for him, fed him three hourly throughout the day and night, and been by his side at all times, even through the hours of darkness, caressing him, encouraging him and trying to will his recovery. Perhaps there are those that think that after having lost so many baby elephants over the years, we at the Trust should have learned to accept tragedy more stalwartly, but, sadly, it never does become easier. Each little elephant is an individual and a character, just as are human children – each is unique, with just one thing in common – the tragedy of losing their beloved elephant family and ending up an orphan. Each one is loved dearly and treasured by us all who work tirelessly to offer every orphan another chance and a quality of life in wild terms when grown.
We know that there will be people all over the world who will be shedding tears for little Gladessa, and there is just one word we can say to console them – the Swahili word “Poleh” (which means Sorry). He, like others who have left for somewhere in the great somewhere before him, will remain in our memory and our hearts forever. Rest in Peace baby Galdessa, and at least you died surrounded by two legged loved ones, who loved you as their own.