22nd December, 2010
I am in the last few days of my internship and desperately trying to absorb everything I can from both STE and the sights and sounds of Kenya itself. I had been really hoping that I would get the chance to see an elephant immobilisation for collaring or veterinary examination and knew that it was all about simply being in the right place at the right time. Four days ago we had found a lone female and her calf. We were able to identify her as ‘Renoir’ from the ‘Artists’ family, however the rest of the group were nowhere to be seen and Renoir was injured. It was very apparent that she had a heavy limp and was in pain. She also had what appeared to be a gun shot wound in her ear. The team’s usual vet was in Nairobi and we had no chance of getting him in to have a look at her. We kept an eye on her for three days whilst the guys were trying hard to find anyone else that would be available. Finally, when we were feeling pretty despondent as we watched her struggling to get around, we were informed that another vet was in fact on his way to us. We sat underneath the shade of the Buffalo Springs Doum Palms for three and a half hours until he arrived and the excitement began to mount as we were all given our instructions for the operation. It was important to drive the elephants into an open and flat area, so that not only would it be easier to access her, but also for her to go down on safe terrain. She stood her ground, but eventually moved up the hill into a perfect open space for darting and she was shot in the rump at close range. She only took a few minutes to go down in a good position, but we needed to also separate her from her calf in order to be able to treat her. I found this a little upsetting because the poor little one had no clue what was going on and desperately wanted to get back to its mother. Everyone worked quickly though; her wounds were thoroughly cleaned, blood samples were taken and antibiotics were administered for the pain and swelling. I assisted in pouring water over her ears to keep her cool and took the opportunity to run my hands over her tusks and trunk. Finally the revival drug was given both intravenously and intramuscularly and we all rushed back to the safety of the vehicles to wait for her to wake. It did not take long at all before she was up on her feet and walking back towards the bush. The whole thing could not have gone better. Her little one now had the task of finding her the poor thing and we watched as she called and called for her before finally catching sight of her behind a bush and running to her side. The vet did not find the bullet, but insisted it would not cause her any problems.
We left mother and calf to relax as the sun started to go down and all felt very happy with the successful events of the day. What a great way to finish my internship.
We couldn’t find her the next day to check on her progress, but everyone felt quite confident that she will make a very good recovery!