Mawenzi was an 18 month old elephant orphan adopted by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who after a long period of being unwell and never thrived as she should, lost the battle and died on Sunday 8th August 2010. Periodic blood tests revealed a high white cell count which indicated some sort of infection – but where and what remained a mystery until after her death.

The autopsy revealed two things – necrotic tissue in the small intestine, which would have inhibited the absorption of nutrients and, over and above that, a massive build up of fluid around the heart to indicate a serious heart malfunction.   The heart problem was probably a genetic defect with which she was most probably born.

For over a year, the caring team at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust have watched the gradual decline of little Mawenzi, as the other orphans overtook her in terms of growth, and health.   Despite those observations and knowledge that she might not live till an old age, it didn’t ease the pain for the loss of a loved one, and each and every little elephant that comes into their care is deeply loved and precious not only to all of staff, but also by hundreds of foster-parents throughout the world who have chosen them as the elephant “icon” whose life people will follow through the monthly Keepers’ Diaries and who also learn to love them.

During her short life, she was surrounded by an outpouring of concern, care and love, and she died, not alone down a deep dark well hearing the footfall of her elephant family growing ever more distant, but in the arms of her new family of grieving Keepers, who closed her eyes forever, certain that there must surely be one more little elephant angel in Heaven. Rest in Peace Mawenzi. You will remain in our hearts forever.

Photo copyright and text: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust