It is with deep sadness that we have to report the death of baby Rukinga , rescued from Rukinga Ranch abutting Tsavo National Park on the 27th September 2012, aged approximately l month, his mother along with several other elephants, having been gunned down by Poachers during the current poaching epidemic that is threatening all elephants throughout Africa, irrespective of location. Little Rukinga came into the Nursery in fine fettle, too young to understand fear, so from the start he was trusting and loving towards the Keepers, and cosseted and loved by all the other Nursery female elephants. He thrived from the outset, until the onset of his teething period.
No-one knows the secret of wild natural Mother Elephants, whose calves cut their initial first four molars seemingly without any problem, but here in our Nairobi Nursery the teething process is invariably life threatening. We have lost many otherwise healthy calves during this critical process. In a captive situation the teething in baby elephants, occurs between the age of 1 and 4 months, triggers fevers, lethargy, loss of appetite and life threatening diarrheoa that is difficult to bring under control, not helped by the fact that the formula of the humanized base milk we use has apparently been adjusted by subsequent manufacturers, and is not quite as good as it used to be for essentially fragile infant elephant babies. During teething elephant babies usually have to be put on intravenous life supporting electrolytes to replace the fluids they have lost through diarrheoa. And so it was with little Rukinga.
In his case, we had the services full time of an Onderstepoort trained Veterinarian, and the advantage of sophisticated blood diagnostic equipment donated to the Trust recently, so we had all the tools and all the drugs at our disposal, but despite all this we were not able to save Rukinga. Perhaps we have also learnt more about what conventional drugs are tolerated by ailing infant elephants, and what to avoid.
And so, the earthly remains of precious baby Rukinga, who died at dusk amidst the tears of his adopted human family, and who breathed his last as darkness took hold. He was deeply loved, and is deeply mourned, not only by us, but by all his foster-parents who supported and loved him in life and so wanted him to live. But, it was not to be. He now rests in peace alongside many others who have not made it, within the tranquility of the quiet forest environment of Nairobi National Park and we are sure that his spirit will now be reunited with that of his beautiful Elephant Mother Somewhere in the Great Somewhere because even here on earth he was so very angelic. Following grief, the page has to be turned, for there will be many others in need of help and care, and we all have to be there for them as well.