Soon after the tragic loss of precious little Kungu, comes another tragedy to break the hearts of all who loved him. Our vocal and larger than life Barseloi died during the night of the 21st October, 2008. For us, the month of October has been filled with immense sadness for we have lost four of our orphaned elephant babies within the month. First to go was Kungu, who died of severe enteritis; then there was the tiny little elephant we nick-named “Beetle”, who walked into a Mining Camp abutting Tsavo West, and was so small that she looked more like a Beetle than an Elephant. She died within two days, so her story was not even posted on our website yet, but nevertheless, all who glimpsed her in the Nursery instantly fell in love with her. She had (well meaningly) been fed cows’ milk by her rescuers, which caused her to die of bloat just a few days after arrival. Another casualty was a 2 year old elephant calf rescued from Kanderi in Southern Tsavo East and brought into the Voi Stockades suffering from a poisoned arrow wound, so a combination of the poison and the resulting sepsis took him out within just 2 days, about 3 litres of pus having been drained from the wound. We had named him “Mshale” which means “arrow” but again, he wasn’t with us long enough to become a fostering candidate and as such known internationally, but his death was equally as painful because his condition was so pitiful to behold.
And now, our precious Barseloi has left us - he, whose dramatic Helicopter rescue from far away Latekweny was the result of many people’s efforts. Barseloi was estimated to be just over 1 month old when he came to us on the 13th September and he fed well and appeared to be thriving during the weeks that he was with us in the Nursery. Yet, we knew, being a well victim, that he was at risk from the dreaded pneumonia, and sure enough, the Post Mortem autopsy revealed that the cause of his death was, indeed, pneumonia, which has accounted for so many of our infant elephants, particularly those who might have ingested water into the lungs before being saved. Since elephants cannot physically cough to expel mucous, a slow simmering infection sets in, which even the prophylactic course of injectable antibiotic given to them all upon arrival cannot always stem. When grieving from the loss of the elephant mother and family, is exacerbated by teething, the natural immune system becomes severely compromised, and especially so in one rescued during the height of an unusually very dry, dry season, as was the case of both Kungu and Barseloi. Under such circumstances, there is little that we can do to save an infant elephant’s life, but with each one, we learn something new that hopefully will help save another.
And so it was, Barseloi’s boundless energy slowly seeped away the two days before his death, and we feared the worst. Despite our best efforts, last night, as the rain pounded his stable roof, with eyes still shining bright until the end, he slowly lost his fight. He was comfortable, surrounded by his grieving Keepers whose outpouring of empathy and tears assured him that he had been equally as deeply loved by his human family. His many foster-parents all over the world will share in our grief. His earthly remains lie buried alongside others in the forest behind the Nursery Stockades, a natural and peaceful baby elephant cemetery, but we are confident that his little elephant spirit will surely be romping around with his dear friend Kungu, where suffering is no more somewhere in the Great Somewhere.