Namibia: Second Lease of Life for Baby Elephant

by Jan 14, 2011Elephants

A ONE month-old elephant calf, whose family was apparently forced to leave him behind in December, is being fostered at a lodge near Omaruru.

The grandchildren of the lodge owners, Ivan and Nicola Reviglio, named the little bull calf Eddy.

When officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism found Eddy alone on a farm in Erongo on December 29, they took him to Epako Lodge to be taken care of.

Professional photographer Chris Johnston, a friend of the lodge owners, instantly befriended Eddy, and became the baby elephant’s ‘foster father’.

It is believed that Eddy’s mother is part of a small group of six elephants that were imported 19 years ago to Epako from Etosha.

About two years ago a lone desert bull is said to have wandered up the Omaruru River from the Namib Desert, and then overland, breaking fences all the way until he ended up amongst Epako’s herd.

“He was looking for love. Not long after he showed up he trumpeted and said ‘come girls; we’re getting outta here’. They vanished down the Omaruru River and into the Erongo Mountains,” according to Johnston.

How the little elephant got to be abandoned is still a mystery. According to Johnston, Eddy was found by an Erongo farmer on Christmas Day, “disoriented and desperate”. For four days the little calf had wandered on the farm, “screaming for his mother”, but she never came back.

The farmer decided to get Nature Conservation to capture Eddy and move him back to Epako – seeing that this was where the mother came from.

“It was a miracle that Eddy lasted four days without his mother in the Namib’s summer heat. He would never have seen 2011. Dehydration, stress or predators would have killed him. It was hoped Epako could keep him alive long enough to find him a new home,” Johnston said.

The little elephant quickly made lots of friends, and was quite lively. The lodge owners even got him a friend – a goat, now called Lamb Chop. Eddy’s age was still a mystery though.

Matters took a turn for the worse last week when Eddy became sick. It is suspected that his keepers were not “doing it right” when it came to caring for him.

“He was dying, and we were helpless?” Johnston said. “We were given bad information by ‘experts’ whose recommendations we followed.”

But they did not give up. Eddy enjoyed around-the-clock observation from everyone that could help.

Eventually the Elephant Park in Knysna, South Africa, was contacted for help. Based on photos, they guessed his age to be about a month.

A proper ‘juice’ of vitamins and rehydration minerals was concocted, and now Eddy seems to be rallying again.

In fact Johnston said yesterday that Eddy was getting up again and being his playful self.

“It’s because of this Debbie and Lisette and Greg in Knysna that Eddy turned around from certain death,” said Johnston.

Plans are in motion now to get Eddy onto a wildlife farm with other elephants.

“We have had some interested wildlife operations, but we are still trying to work out what will be in Eddy’s best interest once we get him stable. At the moment, this is also still unclear. Everybody wants a ‘happy ever after’ ending for Eddy.” Johnston said.