At about 11 am during the morning of the 21st February 2012, Mr. Piers Winkworth of the Offbeat Safaris Tented Camp in Meru National Park noticed a lone young elephant calf, who appeared to have a broken leg. The Camp Guides said that they had seen this orphaned elephant over the past few days, and apparently KWS Rangers had received a report about it some 3 weeks ago, but subsequently had been unable to trace it.
Piers Winkworth called The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to alert them about this orphan, and forwarded photographs of it so that they could assess its approximate size and age.
He then drove to KWS Headquarters to get permission for the rescue of this calf and organize some Rangers to help with its capture.
The Keepers rescue team landed at the Meru airstrip and were driven to the orphans location. By 5 p.m. the calf was safely captured and transported to the Caravan Rescue Plane waiting at Meru Mulika Lodge airfield.
It was a young female, just over 2 years of age, severely lame from possibly having trodden on poisoned elephant spikes hidden just beneath the soil of an elephant trail – a particularly brutal and cruel means of poaching not uncommon these days.
By 8 p,m. the calf was safely back in the Nairobi Nursery, but too wild to handle, despite being incapacitated both by the foot injury to the one hind leg, and what looked liked a dislocated hip joint on the other hind leg.
However, she took water, and throughout the night, a little milk, but collapsed the next day and had to be put on life support during the afternoon of the 22nd
This gave us a chance to take a closer look at the injured foot of one hind leg, and to clean out the deep holes in the sole, disinfect and pack them with green clay, and administer a long acting anti-biotic injection. The next day the Vet came to see her and assisted in cleaning her wounds again. The one hind leg had 3 deep puncture wounds caused by stepping on elephant spikes, while the other leg has some extensive internal tissue damage which our Vet has deemed healable over time with plenty of rest. “Murera”
(As she has been named) spent her first few days at the Nursery stockades, as her wounds needed cleaning daily and she could not put any weight at all on the injured leg. All the Nursery inmates would crowd around her stable, giving her rumbles of love and encouragement that hopefully will impart the will to live.
To keep her company Orwa would stay behind and act as her playmate and companion. They bonded over those few days so much so that Orwa had to be moved next door to Murera’s stockade as she would get stressed in the evening when he left for his quarter.
Within a week, her wounds started healing well and she was able to put a little more weight on her injured hind leg. After 2 weeks she was able to join the orphan herd closeby which had obvious positive effect on her wellbeing and as a result her healing process. Although the ligament damage from the fall will take several months to fully heal she is so far doing very well and showing signs of improvement everyday.
We are enormously grateful to Mr. Piers Winkworth who went to a great deal of trouble to ensure the rescue of little Murera and to the Meru Park Rangers who assisted so professionally with her capture. We all hope and pray that in the fullness of time, Murera will live to forget all the pain and suffering to which she has been subjected, and will come to understand that not all humans are “bad”!