Saturday, January 8, 2011

Eddy Settles In

Eddy hamming it up.

The trip from Martin's farm to Epako is about 70kms, the roads are good to horrible, this is Africa, so it's part of the deal. Eddy has settled into a small enclosure next to the managers house at Epako. This is Eddy and his #1 benefactor, Epako General Manager Guy Claveau;

At first, Eddy went straight into the small lean-to, backed his butt into the corner and cowered, his terror was absolute, his exhaustion was total.  I'm told that the first few hours of human/baby elephant interaction is the most dangerous. How the orphans are approached means the difference between a chance or hole in the ground.  Eddy's luck was still holding, to his great good fortune his first caregivers were Roberto Reviglio, Paul Claveau  and yours truly.

Paul Claveau, is Guys son, who was on holiday with his family from Atlanta.......Can't you just hear the office coffee klatch, " So Paul how was your vacation?" 
This is Paul beginning to coax Eddy into the light.

This is Guy's son-in law, Roberto Reviglio who lives in Windhoek, melding minds with Eddy;

(Just in case you are curious, there are two parts of an elephant that are soft, the ends of their trunks and their tongue, the rest of them feels like sun dried leather on top of rough wood. Their trunks can peel your skin off)
.....And finally moi (the Epako guys are mostly French), sounding like a complete moron speaking baby elephant talk;

All of us involved in rescuing Eddy are kind and gentle, but, what we knew collectively about caring for an orphaned elephant, wouldn't make a complete sentence. (the only reason I appear literate is friends who edit for me)
Here's what we knew:
Eddy was in trouble.
Eddy needed contact with warm living creatures.
Eddy needed to start eating and fast.
Eddy has a long thing at each end and sometimes when he gets excited he gets a slightly shorter thing in-between.
Eddy missed his mother more then we could possibly imagine.
Here are the highlights of what we didn't know:
How old he was
What to feed him
How to keep him alive long enough to get him back with elephants.
First things first, we had to figure out WTF to feed him, since the Spar was fresh out of baby elephant chow.  Being the holidays in Namibia, we had a terrible time finding a vet who could tell us anything.  The vet we did contact (who shall remain nameless)  told us to "just feed him baby calf formula".   Which we did, that's what Paul is feeding Eddy. BUT here's the thing, the vets recommendation was complete bovine fecal matter.  Eddy got the runs and wasn't eating anywhere near enough. What the hell were we doing wrong? A quick Google search told us the danger of diarrhea.
Desperate,  I called Dr. Bertie Venter. [This is Bertie trying to figure out the thingies on his Canon. (I'm a Nikon guy) ]

Bertie is one of two Doctors in the Kruger National Park,  he gave me the cell #  for Dr. Roy Bengis who turns out to be one of the most respected and senior vets in the South African Park system.  I called Dr. Roy at the crack, he was in his truck on the way town. I gave him a brief summary of how our motley crew ended up with Eddy and the conversation went something like this:
"Roy we're in deep here, for starters we don't know how old he is or what to feed him"
"How tall is he?"
"Plus minus a meter"
"Haven't put him on a scale yet, but a lot more than me, call it 150kgs"
"Does he use his trunk to drink water?"
"He's at least 6 months"
Amazing 10 seconds on the phone and we know how old eddy is......
"what are you feeding him?"
"One of our locals said beef calf formula"
"NO. No No.  The diameter of bovine milk fat globules is too large for an elephants digestive system, they cannot metabolize it."
"@#$% ( I'm prone to expletives when excited) what do we do?"
"50/50 skim milk and brown rice, cooked in skim milk, pureed, with a splash coconut oil, funny enough, coconut oil fat globules diameter is the closest natural occurring fat to an elephants."
[I will remember this fact for the rest of my life and smile, maybe someday I'll be on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and this will be the last question....Cha-ching]
Another 10 Seconds and we know how to stop killing him with his food, I got weepy, tears rolling down my cheeks weepy  (something else I'm prone to)
"Roy, Eddy's skin on his ears is cracking what do we do?"
"Its most likely a result of his dehydration, find some cream with a lot of lanolin in it and lay it on good and thick"
(Eddy is now sporting an off-white layer of human nipple cream on his ears, please don't laugh he's sensitive.)

Eddy on the road to recovery:

Chapter 3: Eddy learns about girls and mud...



  1. I am impressed and touched by your collective kindness and sympathetic actions. Eddy's story has me hooked.

  2. I am so jealous! What a fabulous experience for all involved, all be it a life-changing one for Eddy. Keep up the blog and the cool pics.