A particularly painful tragedy for the Trust has been the unexpected death of 13 year old Loisaba, rescued as a two year old orphan at Loisaba Ranch Laikipia and flown directly to the Voi Rehabilitation Centre where she grew up under the Matriarch-ship of Malaika, whom we subsequently lost in childbirth. Loisaba missed Malaika sorely, but eventually settled down and was an integral part of Emily’s unit of Ex Orphans, leading a perfectly normal life as a wild elephant, part of Tsavo East’s wild elephant community, with whom our Ex Orphans mix regularly and a Nannie to Emily’s wild born calf, “Eve”.
During March 2011, the Voi Elephant Keepers, who undertake regular patrols to monitor the Ex Orphans, noticed that Loisaba’s health had deteriorated radically, even though recent rain had brought on lush vegetation. The Keepers monitored her droppings, which were found to have small worms. All the Ex Orphans were de-wormed when they paid a visit to the Voi Stockades, after which they left to join the wild elephant herds again. the Keepers found them regularly, and although Loisaba was keeping pace with the others, her condition had not visibly improved. She looked very wan and thin. On the 21st June, 2011, the Keepers discovered that Loisaba was trailing the main Ex Orphan herd. Although Loisaba had always been somewhat shy of human company, she knew she needed the help of her erstwhile human family, and followed them slowly back to the Stockade, a journey that entailed some 20 miles. She was very slow, and when darkness fell, the Keepers had to leave her at the Voi river and return to base alone.
They set out very early the next day to try and locate her, but did not find her again until the 24th June near Ngutuni Ranch close to the Voi river. Again, she willingly followed them, having to rest frequently en route, but managed to reach the Stockades eventually, where she was admitted to the large Enclosure where Solango recuperated from his damaged back leg. There Loisaba was fed supplements, and cut vegetation pending the arrival of Dr. Poghorn, the KWS Vet attached to the Trust’s Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit. He noticed that her breathing was rapid, and suspecting pneumonia, began a course of injectible antibiotic.
Loisaba died at 4 a.m. during the morning of the 28th June, 2011. She was just 13 years old. The Postmortem revealed that 80% of both lungs had been rendered dysfunctional by nodular whitish material indicating either Tuberculosis or Cancer. Samples of the tissue have been preserved in formalin and sent for further Laboratory testing which should confirm one or the other. We now wait for the results.
Unfortunately, Tsavo has been invaded by domestic livestock, so the risk of TB passing from diseased domestic livestock to the elephants, and, indeed, to other herbivores, is, sadly, very real. The loss of Loisaba has been a very bitter blow for us all, the only consolation being that she had 13 extra years that she would not have enjoyed had she not been rescued in far off Loisaba all those years ago.
View a short film in Memory of Loisaba
TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT
FIELD CASE REPORT
This is a case of a female elephant formerly an orphan reported to have gradually lost body condition over the last four months where she was rescued and finally brought to the Voi stockade shade for treatment.
Treated on Sunday 25/06/2011 for signs of respiratory distress/pneumonia but succumbed to the illness on the night of 28th June 2011. An autopsy was carried out and the findings supported the initial diagnosis of respiratory system infection.
¾ Carcass score of 2.5 in a scale of 5 (Poor).
¾ Signs of anemia (paleness).
¾ There were significant changes in the lungs with about 85 % of the right lung and the left lung lobes infiltrated by whitish material that feels nodular in the near normal areas the new invading cells had rendered most of the lungs non- functional.
¾ Tumor (cancer)
¾ Tissue samples in formalin for histology.
¾ Tissue samples in Alcohol.
¾ Frozen tissues for Lab Diagnosis.
Reported by Jeremiah Poghon
ARCHIVAL IMAGES OF LOISABA