The rescue and death of Lemek

Little Lemek, a 2 month old female elephant calf, was retrieved from the Masai Mara National Reserve on the 28th January 2012 having been found in thick bush all alone

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Little Lemek, a 2 month old female elephant calf, was retrieved from the Masai Mara National Reserve on the 28th January 2012 having been found in thick bush all alone. She was airlifted to the Trusts Nairobi Elephant Nursery the next day, and from the start was problematical to feed.

We struggled day and night to try and persuade her to take the milk, but without success, despite the presence, example and in-put of all the other Nursery elephants who adored her; despite the input of our best and most experienced Elephant Keeper, Mishak Nzimbi whom every elephant that has passed through our Nursery has loved most; despite endless patience and perseverance day and night for the 8 days she was with us! This elephant, unlike all the others that have passed through our hands, simply would not even try to ingest a sufficient quantity of milk in 24 hours to sustain life. She literally faded away before our very eyes, passing only small amounts of mucus, suggesting a fundamental gut problem, for which we took the precaution of the usual oral Sulphadimidine, but with no noticeable change.
In the end we were convinced that she must have some internal defect, and after she breathed her last at 5.30 a.m. on the morning of the 5th February, 2012, we arranged for an autopsy to try and identify this new phenomenon. The result was a shock that broke our hearts. Little Lemek simply died from starvation, no evidence of anything else remiss. In a nutshell, she simply did not want to even try to live, having lost her elephant mother and family a tragic baby who had made up her mind even at that tender age and was determined to join her lost elephant mother. We have never had another like her and it is distressing to know that there was simply nothing we could do to make her change her mind, for force-feeding an elephant is not possible. Rest in Peace little Lemek, somewhere in the Great Somewhere, with your Elephant Mother, even though, had you lived, you would have made a wonderfully caring little mother to others like you who are bound to follow due to the escalation in elephant poaching throughout Africa due to the demand for ivory in China and the Far East.