This past week has seen an amazing recovery for little Mataya!
On arrival to the Nursery he was so weak that he was unable to stand and was even fed laying down. The Keeper team devoted themselves to comforting him and giving him the high level of care that he so desperately needs. In the first few days he was offered rehydration fluids and milk frequently and in small volumes. However, it was critical that he adapted to the new nutritious milk formula in order that he regains condition and has the energy required for recovery, maintenance and growth. Over the next few days Mataya showed a steady increase in appetite (for milk), energy and settling. He started sleeping deeper and for longer periods, which is a great sign that he is comfortable and relaxed in his new environment with a Keeper always at his side. He has also started to consume increasing volumes of milk and has already regained the weight he lost through his separation and trauma. He is now strong enough to be let out of the stable and stretch his legs further, so each day has been enjoying some time in a little mud hole and wandering around the paddock whilst the Nursery herd are out on the walk.
The injury that Mataya sustained has received veterinary attention and is cleaned and treated twice a day. It is a deep, infected wound but thankfully Mataya’s vitals and behaviour are consistently normal indicating that the infection is being kept at bay. It is absolutely heart wrenching to think that someone intentionally attacked Mataya, but this act demonstrates the incredibly challenging realities being faced where humans and wildlife interface and compete for resources. The community in Mataya Unga village lost significant food resources when Mataya’s herd raided, and for these people living on the poverty line, this compromises the health and survival of their own families. It is almost impossible for most of us reading this text on our screens to really understand the gravity of these conflict situations, which frequent result in a loss of both human and wildlife lives. GRI’s Community Outreach Ranger Chrispine, is working closely with our partners at Conservation Lower Zambezi to provide follow up support to this community with human-wildlife coexistence strategies and awareness, as well as acknowledging their role in Mataya’s rescue. In our mission to “conserve nature” it is absolutely essential that we first engage and support the people whose lives are so intricately linked to its environmental health.
Whilst Mataya is currently showing all the right signs of recovery we are still very cautious with his care regime and need to ensure he is strong before he meets the rest of the Nursery herd. We know they are all very keen to meet him and from the time of his arrival there have been lots of warm rumbles by Mbila and Zongo in particular, with Mbila trying to access him over the stable walls. This interest and support by Mbila is as we would expect and hope, since she became the Nursery Mini-Matriarch, so her role is to look after the other younger ele’s. The Keepers noted that both Mbila and Zongo were frequently rumbling at night, and this seems to sooth Mataya – they notice that he sleeps for longer and deeper at times when they are rumbling, so he must be feeling reassured and soothed by their presence. This is testament to the incredible social support of elephant families and networks and their instinctive caring behaviours. Mbila’s interest in Mataya was highlighted as she has shown resistance to go out on walks, hanging by his stable wanting to stay there and on one occasion she even left the walk and came rushing back to the stables to check on him! This demonstration of maternal instinct bodes well for Mbila’s future as well as for the first physical interactions when we let Mataya have free access to the herd. As soon as he is a little stronger we will let him out of the stable with them present and we can’t wait to see how he will be welcomed into his new herd.
Mataya's rescue was supported by Conservation Lower Zambezi
Mataya is proudly supported by Stop Poaching Now through supporter, Raquel Bernal.
To support Mataya and the Nursery Herd in their journey back to the wild, please consider donating to Game Rangers International today.