Another hectic Sunday 7th November (it always happens on a Sunday!); another rescue alert following a phone call from the Mara Conservancy that there was a young, and very sick elephant mother, with an enormous festering abscess on her abdomen and a tiny newborn calf, who was in a very weak condition. Both mother and baby looked like set to die unless the mother received urgent Veterinary intervention, and the baby, some milk. The prognosis for the mother was never encouraging, since the abscess was huge and severely infected; the prognosis for the baby even less so, since the mother was obviously too ill to produce milk, and would be even less likely to be able to feed her calf having had immobilizing drugs. However, the Mombasa Vet, Dr. Kashmiri. who usually handles the Masai Mara cases, was on his way from Mombasa to immobilize the mother and assess the seriousness of her wounds when a decision would be made as to whether to euthenase her to spare her further suffering, should her chances of recovery prove unlikely. We were asked to stand by should the calf be a candidate for rescue.
Unfortunately, the immobilisation of the mother did not go entirely according to plan. The mother was put to sleep her wound was cleaned, the vet was also able to asertain that the mother was virtually without milk, her breasts having srivelled out of reach of the calf even, when unexpectedly she woke up before an antibiotic administered. With the elephant now on its feet, everyone had to scramble to safety, including the Vet. It was decided that Seyia would have no chance of survival given his present dehyrated condition, and his mothers present condition. Obviously, if he was not to end up making a meal for the hyaenas, he had to be treated as an orphan, and little Seyia came into our care, the 60th elephant baby the Trust has been able to save, assuming that he makes it. We estimate his age to be about 1 week, the worry being whether his mother had been able to produce the vital first colostrums milk to give him the antibodies he needs to cope with life.