Thoma is one of the 15 orphan baby elephants rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), whose names adorn our Elephant London Dry Gin miniature bottles.
She came from a refugee population of Laikipia (Kenya) elephants sheltering in a tiny remnant forest near a place called Nyahururu, which, in Colonial times was known as “Thomson’s Falls”, hence the name Thoma. On arrival to the DSWT’s orphanage, the team were prepared for another difficult customer, since the refugee elephants, completely surrounded by human settlement, lead a life of trauma and terror at the hands of humans. Every time they step beyond the sanctity of their forest shelter, they are in trouble, and consequently they tend to have adopted a nocturnal feeding pattern, emerging only under cover of darkness to find whatever they can beyond the forest.
The rescue team arrived to pick Thoma up expecting a difficult elephant, but found a tiny, approximately 2 months old calf lying comatose and almost dead in a small lion cage, barely even breathing. They doubted that she would be able to make the journey back, but she proved them wrong, reviving after rehydration salts. Closer inspection revealed multiple puncture wounds on her hindquarters, possibly from thrashing around in the cage or from a barbed wire enclosure when she was confined at the Nyahururu Police Station. She was severely traumatised to the point of being nearly demented both from pain and fear.
For an entire week after arrival to the orphanage little Thoma was inconsolable, restlessly pacing the stable, fearful of both the other elephants and the keepers. For an entire week she never slept, and nor did the poor keepers! Injectable antibiotic in conjunction with hot towels gently laid against her buttocks gradually cured the sepsis from the puncture wounds; massive doses of silver taken with her milk also worked its usual magic, homeopathic arnica and camomile helped calm her, and then finally, Thoma slept!
Little Thoma settled down well and soon became happy and playful, and finally seemed totally at peace with her new environment.
Text & photo credit: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust