When undertaking the rearing of infant elephant babies, one must expect heartbreaks aplenty and we have certainly had our fair share of those over the years. The loss of tiny Lorian, who came to us on the 25th June, 2012, as a plump little calf estimated to be about 2 weeks old, trusting and devoid of fear, has been an extremely painful heartbreak, wondering what we possibly could have done differently to have avoided it.
Lorian died the morning on the 11th July. Simply from day one, we could never correct the watery diarrheoa that gripped this calf from the onset!
Upon arrival his umbilicus was not present and there was evidence of wear on the pads of his tiny feet . It never even occurred to us that he might not have been able to ingest his mothers first Colostrum milk for we estimated his age to be about 2 weeks, and he could not have survived two weeks without milk, and especially his mothers first milk containing the vital antibodies a newborn needs to cope with life on earth. A post-mortem undertaken on his body has confirmed the likelihood that he was a colostrum deficient victim and that is what now haunts us.
Before being airlifted to the Nursery on the 25th June, Lorian spent the night of the 24th at the KWS Ranger base camp in the area, having been retrieved from Simba Farm near the Rumuruti Forest in Laikipia late in the evening. His elephant family probably strayed into human settlement from their forest refuge which is now isolated, surrounded by human agricultural and ranching activities. Another possibility could be , but well meaningly, this hungry elephant baby might have been fed cows milk by his captors, and this would certainly not have done him any good. However, providing a calf has sufficient reserves, diarrheoa can usually be corrected with oral antibiotics, but not so with Lorian who upon arrival looked robust. The watery stools persisted and then blood tests revealed a normal white blood cell count, ruling out any obvious bacterial infection that his body could be fighting, but hinted at the possibility of a viral condition. We turned to homeopathy, because there is not much one can do about a virus, but he became progressively more lethargic with every passing day, only rallying briefly after drip infusions of Dextrose and Saline, but then collapsing again soon afterwards. Finally, he passed peacefully from this world into the next just before 6 a.m. on the morning of 11th July, 2012 still on life support, and still plagued by the same watery stools which no medication had been able to touch.
And so, we win some, and we also lose some and with every loss there is deep sadness and a sickening sense of failure all over again, despite the lessons of 50 years practical experience.