30th August 2011 has been another tragic and sad day for all of us in our Nairobi Elephant Nursery, and also for all the foster-parents of this tiny orphaned elephant named Mumbushi, the smallest baby in our Nairobi Nursery who was deeply loved and cosseted by all. After a promising start, it is very difficult to weather the sinking feeling of failure all over again, combined with the emotional trauma of losing one who was so deeply loved.
Mumbushi was just 2 months old when his elephant mother fell victim to poacher’s within the Mt. Kenya forests, not only taking her life for a tooth, but also brutalizing her tiny two month old infant, slashing him across the face with a machete, leaving a deep gash and an eye that threatened blindness. With daily tender loving care we could give him, we healed his wound and his eye and also the sorrow of losing his elephant mother. For a brief few weeks little Mumbushi was whole again, happy and playful and adored by all the older Nursery elephants as well as the Keepers and the visiting public who met him. He charmed them all.
Then the teething began. Cutting the first molars is always problematical for infant elephants, and I wish I knew what magic formula their elephant mothers have to alleviate the symptoms we see every time in the Nursery – loss of appetite, diarrheoa and fevers. For Mumbushi, this proved particularly difficult because a number of teeth popped through at the same time, pushing in different direction. On top of everything else this simply proved too much. He began to loose condition, suffered stomach problems which we found difficult to control, went off his milk, and just gave up the ghost when the dreaded pneumonia struck two days ago and failed to respond to injectible antibiotic. He passed away at 4.30 a.m. this morning.
But, at least he is at peace now, with his mother in the Great Somewhere. When will humankind have sufficient compassion to spare those who inhabit the natural world and to celebrate, protect and preserve them rather than plunder and kill. Will we ever live to see that day, I wonder? Poaching for ivory is escalating throughout Africa due to the Ivory Trade and the International community needs to do something about it by leaning on China and other Far Eastern countries, rather than pandering to them. Only a change of heart in China and the Far East will save the elephants.