In a touching display of love and loyalty, three elephant calves were recently seen comforting their terminally ill mother, Nalakite, in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
As the family’s matriarch, Nalakite had raised and guided her children throughout their lives, creating an unbreakable bond.
Elephant Aware Masai Mara rangers first noticed Nalakite’s concerning condition in September.
She had lost significant weight and had a circular wound on her left side, likely caused by a spear.
Human-elephant conflicts are unfortunately common in the Mara region, leading to injuries like this, according to Joyce Poole, an elephant behavior expert and co-director of ElephantVoices.
A rescue team, including veterinarians, rushed to treat Nalakite’s infection from the spear wound.
Sedating and treating her was risky, as she might not have had the strength to stand back up after the procedure.
Despite their concerns, the team proceeded with the treatment, and with the help of ropes, they got Nalakite back on her feet.
However, a month later, rangers discovered Nalakite in a muddy water hole, too weak to escape. Despite a 12-hour effort to rescue her, the team ultimately had to accept that Nalakite was dying.
Throughout this ordeal, her calves remained nearby, offering comfort and reassurance to both their mother and each other.
As Nalakite’s life ended, her eldest son lay down beside her in a touching display of affection. Poole explains that elephants, like humans, deeply understand death and express their grief through physical touch and emotional connection.
Although Nalakite’s passing was a significant loss, her calves have found support in their extended family, which includes aunts and cousins.
Elephant Aware Masai Mara expressed their commitment to protecting these calves and ensuring they can live as elephants should.
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