Mashaba

In August 2000 a young elephant was found in distress about 7 kms from the Elephant Camp on Woodlands Estate. He was a youngster of about 4 years old and had been horrifically entwined in a wire snare which had wrapped around his back right foot. The poor elephant had obviously been in this cruel and painful state for a long time as the bottom of the foot had torn away and he was left with almost nothing but protruding bone. Having been unable to keep up with his herd he had been abandoned and was severely traumatised. The Guides at Elephant Camp walked Miz Ele, Jack, Jock and Jumbo over to meet this orphan whom we named Mashaba, and he immediately calmed down and managed the long walk home to a new stable that had been set up for him.

Mashaba became the most wonderful, patient and gentle elephant. He spent a very difficult 7 months in his stables being worked on daily by vets and guides and grooms, having his foot treated and scrubbed and cleaned day in and day out. Mashaba had many a long and painful day but he became a part of the herd in October when he was finally well enough to walk on his injured leg and he joined his new family This was Mashaba's life - he LOVED being part of a new herd obviously having lost his and we were always amazed at how his tragedy seemed to have been put aside as long as he was with Miz Ele, Jock and Jumbo. For several years he managed on the bad leg, limping along and we made sure he was kept off rocky areas or anything that could hurt. We had hoped that the skin would finally close over and heal but this was not to be. over a process of time, perhaps 6 years into his rehabilitation, we noticed that Mashaba was struggling once more to keep up with the herd. As we now had orphans Rastas, Doji and Mashaba who did not have to walk every day,we would leave Mashaba with them and he became very close to the youngsters. He was happy to remain with them and we again hoped that he would have time to recuperate from the injury.

Unfortunately, Mashaba's wound did not improve - gradually he managed to walk less and less, until eventually we realised that his muscles up his leg were beginning to atrophy and pain was now a regular feature of his life again. On calling in a few vetinerary surgeons for a prognosis - the news was not good. The Big Move we were about to make could never be undertaken by Mashaba and drugging and moving him to the new site was not a good option. The new land was very rocky and apart from that, a prothsesis was suggested, but his entire muscle structure had now broken down and we wanted no more pain for our orphan whom we had brought this far and whose life was now a struggle. The only option was euthanasia which was heartbreakingly carried out by Gavin, who had been a very close part of Mashaba's family. And so when we set out on our final journey with the herds to our new home, we left behind two of our dearest elephants. Mashaba was buried at Elephant Camp where we had just buried little Chizi, - trying to keep these orphans alive is often not possible, but it does not stop us from trying.

Every animal deserves a right to a life - how long it lasts is another story but to die happy and feeling safe is better than to die in agony under the African sun, alone.