Willa was a beautiful female that lived in a herd with Wendy as matriarch who was later poached. Willa’s tail looked like it’s been eaten, very nearly cut in two about 1/4 way up from where the hairs begin. Shortly after the incident, she was swishing it around a lot and rubbing it against the bushes – it could’ve got caught in a snare, a spear or a bullet might’ve caused it. It was very likely that tail had been shot off by a bullet by the poachers that had killed Wendy. Half of the tail fell off at later date and the remaining short bit healed well.
Willa took care of another young calf orphaned by Wendy. Willa at that point had not yet had a calf herself, or as suspected the baby didn’t survive. She was being an excellent mother to the calf that was named Wendy II. Little Wendy stayed close to Willa, often right under her chin or close in behind her front let with her head up against Willa’s shrivelled breast. Willa gently reached around and touched her from time to time. Later, Willa had had her own three calves and aimed at rebuilding the family not only damaged by poachers, but also a couple of several draughts.
Willa died of an illness probably caused by a snare wound. The death of Willa was very sad for the family and for the researchers who had been following her life. She had done such a good job against the odds of both raising Wendy’s orphaned calf and leading her small family for 25 successful years. Willa was 18 years old when she took over and died at 44 years old. She was definitely one of our heroines.
Text: Cynthia J. Moss
Photo copyright: Save the elephants