This is Eddy:
Chris Johnston Photograph
He is an African elephant loxodonta africana
Eddy was orphaned at Christmas in the Namib Desert near the Erongo Mountains of Central Namibia. He was rescued December 29th, changing his luck and changing the lives of everyone who has come in contact with him since.
Eddy's mom is part of a small group of six elephants that were imported 19 years ago to Epako Game Lodge from Etosha National Park one of Africa's premier national parks.
In 1970's and 1980's wildlife managers dealt with elephant over-population by culling the adults and capturing the youngsters. We now know killing the adults and relocating the youngsters is barbaric. Imagine human children watching their parents being shot and then getting dragged away by aliens. Because of this the Epako elephants grew up without a matriarch and suffered because of it.
Once moved to Epako this small group of elephants became ghosts in 13 years of visits to the farm I never saw them. They simply vanished into the bush. About two years ago a lone desert adapted bull elephant wandered up the Omaruru River from the Namib Desert, and then overland breaking fences all the way until he ended up in the middle of the Epako herd, he was looking for LOVE. Not long after he showed up he whistled and said "come girls we're outta here". Down the Omaruru River and into the Erongo Mountains they vanished.
This is where Eddy was rescued, as you can see its remote....
How Eddy came to be abandoned by his family group is a complete mystery. A few years ago I witnessed the aftermath of a mother elephant trying to fish her calf out of the swimming pool at Hobatare, it was like a bomb had gone off. utter destruction. So the feeling is Eddy's mom being young without a grandma around just didn't know how to care for him. Local farmer Martin van Wyk found Eddy Christmas Day, Eddy was lost, disoriented and desperate. Capturing a baby elephant is the last choice, it's only done to keep them from dying. From the 25th till the 29th Eddy wandered miles every day along Martin's farm boundary screaming for his mother, but she never came back. Reminds me of when I was a kid and got lost in Sears.....Eddy was going to die so Martin called Namibia Nature Conservation who made arrangements to capture Eddy and move him back to Epako.
It was a miracle that Eddy lasted four days without his mother in the Namib's summer heat, think Phoenix sun with Miami moisture. Eddy never would have seen New Years, dehydration, stress or predators would have killed him. It was hoped Epako could keep him alive long enough to find him a new family and that is where this story really begins.
These are Eddy's rescuers , Alice, Simpson and Jeffi from Epako.
Next: Eddy gets settled in......