My foster “child” Ajabu
I recently fostered an orphaned elephant, Ajabu, who was found wandering alone at the Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. The picture was taken on 4/10/2013 – 6 days after her birthday. No-one knows what happened to her mother. Proud to be a supporter of the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust .
Update August 22nd, 2013
Today I got the devastating news that precious Ajabu died last night from an abnormally low platelet count. When she was rescued 5 months ago, after presumably being abandoned by her mother, she was given an infusion of elephant plasma since it appeared unlikely that she had been able to benefit from her mother’s first colostrum milk that contains the antibodies vital to survival. Thereafter she thrived, fed milk on demand throughout the day and the night, and diligently protected from the chill by being always covered with a warm blanket.
She was late in teething, but when she began cutting her first molar, the usual difficulties appeared, but Ajabu never lost her appetite and weathered them, managing to cut 2 molars by the time of her death. However during August, it was noticed that Ajabu’s back feet were turning inwards slightly, which in the past has been a pre-cursor to the death of infant teething elephants. Then on the morning of the 21st August, her keepers reported that fluid was coming from her trunk, and that, unusually, she had refused her usual morning milk feeds and was “dull”. A sample of her blood was sent to Nairobi Hospital for analysis. The results showed everything was normal but for an extremely low platelet count. With no indication of a bacterial or viral infection, the suspected pneumonia could be ruled out.
It is possible that the platelet defect was a result of a Vitamin D deficiency from not having been exposed to sufficient sunshine during the very cold and miserable Nairobi winter months of June, July and August. Ajabu had been protected from chill and the possibility of pneumonia (a major killer of baby elephants) by being covered by a blanket when out and about. She was put on an intravenous plasma drip in an attempt to boost her platelet count, but tragically, little Ajabu, while comfortably lying on her mattress in her stable, stopped breathing in the evening of the 21st, and surrounded by her grief-stricken human family she passed away very quietly and peacefully at 8 p.m.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: “We give thanks that we were able to share the life of little Ajabu, which for her were almost 5 very happy months that otherwise would have been denied her. And that during that time she was surrounded by caring and the same boundless love that her human family would have given her, and that she had a pain-free and peaceful end overseen by those who cared and loved her deeply.”
I couldn’t have said it better. Ajabu was loved by all the nursery orphans but none more so than Sonje. Because of this precious bond I have chosen to foster Sonje and watch her grow into a beautiful adult elephant that will eventually be released back into the wild.