Elephant Alphabet – O is for Obituary

September 1, 2011

Note: This post may not be appropriate for young children.

Mumbushi was comforted by all

Mumbushi was comforted by all

Yesterday I read that little orphan elephant, Mumbushi, had passed away at the Nairobi Nursery (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust). Here is the story from DSWT.

What makes Mumbushi’s death difficult to bear was that at 4 months, he had endured so much hardship. He was rescued at 2 months of age, having lost his mother to poachers. The hunters had left him with a deep machete cut across his forehead, including part of his right eye. Seeing the pictures and video I could hardly believe the vet could save that elephant. But Mumbushi appeared to revive and heal while acclimating to the Nairobi Nursery. It seems in retrospect that during his teething period it is very physically challenging, painful, and is a time when an infant elephant’s immune system is weakened. In addition, it seems like a baby elephant is susceptible to illness or psychological heartache which can rob the creature of wanting to live, at least for the first few years of its life.

My heart goes out to the keepers at the nursery, Dame Sheldrick and family, and Mumbushi’s foster parents. As a number of the older (2 year-old) orphan elephants had begun doting on Mumbushi and watching after him, hopefully they will be OK with his absence.

Having read most of the DSWT keepers’ diaries (online) for 2011, it’s not uncommon for a newer nursery orphan to pass away suddenly. The combination of physical and psychological wellness for a traumatized and malnutritioned infant being in a delicate balance.

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