Or at least we hope it has, in a more positive way, for the dear little weak orphan, recently rescued by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation funded Elephant Orphanage in Zambia. Currently known by the nickname of ‘41’ being the 41st orphan assisted by the project, the 2 1/2 year old male was found in a major poaching hotspot in the Lower Zambezi National Park, just after gunshots rang out.
It’s believed that his mother was shot and so travelling without her support for 2 days meant he struggled to keep up with the herd. Weak when members of the Elephant Orphanage Team reached him, he was seriously lacking the protein he would have received from his mother’s milk so he was stabilised in a half built house near where he was found by the Kakaro villagers and first captured by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. Trying with small amounts of milk formula in a syringe the Elephant Orphanage Project keepers’ patience was finally rewarded and he started accepting bottles until he was strong enough for the 8 hour road journey to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery.
After his arrival, the team had further concerns as he was suffering the effects of exhaustion and stayed awake for 9 days in a row. He has very little muscle in his back legs and didn’t have the power to get himself up so the team had to lift him to his feet or his knees to feed. However they are continuing to boost the protein content of his formula and although he still needs help standing up, he is now able to remain standing for much longer periods of time.
Other physical effects include an eye infection which initially impaired his vision quite significantly but has already shown great improvement since being treated with a combination of different eye drops. And he also has an abscess in his jaw that is quite deep and requires twice daily cleaning. The emotional scars however will be deeper still and we hope he will pull through the traumatic circumstances of losing his mother…