It is with deep sadness that we share the passing of Fenya, an orphaned elephant calf that was found and rescued on 17 February 2021. The young calf fought so hard and so did our team, who worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to try to save her precious life.
Fenya was brought into the care of Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD) by a resident of Mahlathini Private Game Reserve, located close to Phalaborwa, who rescued her.
Adine Roode, founder of HERD, together with wildlife veterinarian Dr. Peter Rogers and the dedicated team of elephant carers at HERD fought day in and day out to gain her trust, and provide her with treatment and care. Blood tests were taken which showed very low albumin levels and a low red blood cell count which accompanied her severe dehydration and emaciation from being alone with the snare around her neck for an estimated one to two months.
The wounds were extremely deep and wide with bad degradation by maggots that were eating the rotting flesh, both inside and outside the wounds, the worst being around her trachea, leaving a gaping wound, 15cm wide.
A blood transfusion was given from one of the older female cows from the Jabulani herd, to assist with her albumin levels. This made a positive impact for short periods of time, but her condition continued to weaken in the days that followed, despite numerous drips and supplements given by the veterinarian team.
On Thursday, 11 March 2021, Fenya sadly succumbed to the horrific wounds caused by a poacher’s snare and the effects of numerous weeks of dehydration and starvation that ensued her entrapment, as it seems she had either been separated or abandoned by her herd. Elephants are highly emotional animals, with stress and trauma having extremely adverse effects on their physical well-being being too.
Our HERD team and our veterinarian team went above and beyond to try to save Fenya’s life, but her state was simply too severe and her trauma endured too far along. Her situation was made all the more complex due to her severe wounds and the challenge of feeding her and keeping her energy levels up. We will continue to welcome and learn from greater insight into these types of unprecedented delicate situations with elephant calves.
Illegal snare hunting is on the increase, with the growing percentage of unemployment and increasing population numbers in South Africa being a major factor. Many communities are hungry and desperate and will continue to hunt our wildlife through snaring, to be able to survive. It is a rising threat to our precious and vulnerable wildlife populations and one that sadly claimed Fenya’s life.
Fenya’s body has been laid to rest on the reserve. We are grateful for the phenomenal support of our experts, partners, donors and supporters around the world.
We hope this loss will help to cast a greater light on the devastating effects of snaring.