October 25th 2005 the call came in that a small 6-8 week old baby-elephant had been found in an open opal mineshaft in the area that separates Tsavo-East from Tsavo-West. This narrow corridor is a migration route of elephant herds and was getting more and more crowded with human habitation. The herds prefer to quickly traverse this for them dangerous corridor under cover of the night and at great speed.
The ground surrounding the hole the baby had fallen into was completely trampled, a sign how hard his family members must have tried to get the little elephant out. The decision to leave him before the breaking of dawn to ensure the safety of the rest of the herd must have been heartbreaking for the matriarch. The miners heard the cries of the baby and managed to get him out. When the keepers of the Trust came to collect him there was written on his ear in feltpen "Zurura"which in Swahili means "he who got lost".
Because we had just lost little Galdessa to among other things unrelenting bouts of diarrhoea and Kilgoris was showing similar symptoms for which he was getting an strong antibiotic, as a precaution Zurura was given the same.
The test results of the practice indicated the possibility of a viral infection. After a few days Zurura also developped swollen lymph glands that have since than returned to normal again. In March the tragedy of losing Kilgoris after such a vigilant struggle made me decided to try and find out what it was that we were dealing with. Dr Marja Kik from the Veterinary department of the University of Utrecht offered help and feared that it could be an infection caused by a herpes virus. A serum sample from Zurura would have to be sent to the Erasmus university of Rotterdam and Prof. Ab Osterhaus would be doing the research.