We heard that there was a poached elephant near Attan on the 19th. The following day we found Resilience, the matriarch of the Virtues, standing in the Ewaso, skinny, listless, and alone. When we got closer we saw blood coming down her front right leg. We watched as she crossed to the Samburu side of the river and into the shade, a process that took several minutes. Once there, the veterinary team darted her and began treatment. They found the bullet wound we had initially spotted in her chest, in addition to one in her left ear and one in her back right leg. When they finished their work and administered the antidote, Resilience could not pick herself up, though she tried many times. Finally, the team wrapped a strap around her and pulled her to her feet with a truck. She walked away slowly.
As David identified the poached elephant from photographs as Enthusiasm of the same family, the story began to unfold. The family must have been passing through the area and been shot at indiscriminately. When we found a group of young Virtues in the reserve on the morning of the 21st, our fears were confirmed. Honesty’s calf (R14.8900) had a bullet wound in her front right leg, and Hurri, a large bull, had a bullet wound in his rump. R14.8900 was moving, but her leg was stiff. Among the group were Resilience’s young calf and Enthusiasm’s orphaned calf, both still nursing, both looking out of place and thin. The veterinary team darted R14.8900 and treated her wound.
At the time of this writing, both R14.8900 and Resilience have been seen feeding. Resilience is still alone, as she is too slow to keep up with a group. We hope these two elephants will survive. Without Resilience’s leadership, the Virtues face an insecure future.