WAMBA: This miniature calf who was small for his age, was rescued by tribesmen near Wamba Northern Kenya on the 6th September 2009. Because the hind-side of his ears were dark, the umbilicus dry and detached and the soles of the feet showing signs of wear, we estimated his age to be about 2 – 3 weeks. Despite antibiotics and an infusion of intravenous blood plasma administered as soon as the Keepers reported that he was becoming “dull”, and the stools began turning into diarrheoa, he died suddenly during the night of the 17th September, 2009, none of the treatment having any affect on his worsening condition.
We suspect the Rota Virus yet again, which was established as the cause of death in several other babies before him suffering from similar symptoms that would not respond to the normal antibiotics. In the case of Wamba, unfortunately no Vet was available to carry out an autopsy, so he was buried in the forest. His end was tragic and a sad loss, because he was a very endearing little elephant who had obviously been through so much in his short life. However, at least he had a peaceful end, surrounded by people who cared, loved him in life and did whatever they could to save him. Sadly it was not to be.
KIGELIA: This tiny calf, unbeknownst to us at the time of her rescue, was actually born during the night of the 14th September 2009 close to Satao Tented Lodge in Tsavo East National Park, and subsequently abandoned by her elephant mother, and saved from making a meal for the lions by being rescued during the evening of the 15th, by then the desperate calf had tried to join numerous other elephant herds none of whom were interested in her in this drought year, and she had fallen into the mudwallow for a second time having been rescued by the camp staff the first time.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and KWS mobile veterinary unit were alerted by the camp about this young abandoned baby, and she spent the night of the 15th at the Voi stockades before being flown up to Nairobi on the 16th. She was a large calf and the umbilicus was detached, so we and the Keepers estimated her age to be about 2 weeks. As such, we assumed that she would have had her mother’s first colostrums milk which imparts the antibodies for survival. However, it was not until we read the Satao Camp Blog on the Internet that we discovered that she was, in fact, only born during the night of the 14th, the day before being rescued. Such newborn orphans need to receive an infusion of plasma as a replacement for the first colostrum milk to trigger the immune system, and this should be done as soon as possible. However, in the case of little Kigelia, this plasma life-saver came too late, since a number of days had already passed before we realized her circumstances. Despite receiving an infusion of elephant plasma the moment we discovered that she was infact a newborn, and despite trying desperately to keep her hydrated with drips, we simply could not stem the diarrheoa. She struggled bravely for 48 hours, but it was against the odds, and she passed away during the early hours of the 20th September, 2009. We were devastated, particularly as this was a tragedy that could possibly have been averted, had we known the circumstances better.