Its mid-day at Tsavo Conservation Area and the sun is just staring at us and we cannot do anything about it. The vet in the area has been informed of an elephant immobile somewhere in the middle of Rukinga Ranch. Being an intern in the research department at Tsavo East, we accompanied the vet to the ranch. A long and dusty ride it was but that could not dampen our spirits as we eagerly waited to see what had happened. Many things were going through my mind because I could not imagine of an elephant just lying down with no injury whatsoever noted.
On arriving at the site, what we saw was more than heart wrenching. The bull was lying on its side, weak, as was his expression, breathing heavily with difficulty and very thin you could count his ribs with ease. Cause of all this, as the vet diagnosed him, was emaciation. The ranch rangers said the bull had probably been there for almost a week and they had discovered him as they did a patrol of the area.
What followed next were a series of trying to lift him up using our truck with the probability that he would be able to stand on his four feet and continue his journey and maybe catch up with his family members or other bulls. This went on for more than an hour, lifting the bull on all sides, failing most times. We did not loose hope as we tried all angles to lift him.
At the last moment of his life, he shock and breathed heavily, probably his last breath, made a slightly low tone trumpeting sort of sound and died. He lost fighting a battle for his life.
Emaciation, as earlier stated, could have been a result of travelling over a long distance in search of water, as elephants have been known to travel kilometres in such of this precious commodity and food which could have been scarce in the area. The bull could have collapsed as he could not take it any longer. This would have then resulted in infestation of bacteria organisms, due to no body metabolism and also lying on the ground exposing his weak openings such as the mouth and trunk, which would decrease his chances of survival.
Ways of reducing such cases from happening could involve building water pans in very dry parts of the area. This would increase their chances of survival as they would always have access of water as they follow their ancestral routes of migration.