The sad passing of orphaned elephant, Shawu.

It is with unimaginable heartache and incredible sadness, that we announce the tragic news of orphaned elephant Shawu’s passing, on Monday 18 June during the early evening.

Nothing could have prepared us for the turn of events that so quickly transpired, in Shawu’s condition, from showing a clean bill of health to the sudden loss of his life, in a matter of hours. This has been one of the hardest and most painful experiences we have been through, as it was completely unexpected.

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Shawu when he first arrived at HESC

We made the decision to announce this, only once the postmortem had been carried out, to get some understanding, and we can now confirm that Shawu died due to heart failure.

We were completely unaware of his weakened heart, and we now anxiously await the results of the further testing to understand his condition better. Shawu had shown no signs of any distress or fatigue, up until Monday afternoon, when we requested the assistance of wildlife vet Dr Peter Rogers. Shawu became increasing tired within a space of a few hours. Even though showing signs of fatigue, he was still readily taking his bottled milk and we suspected he may have picked up an infection of some kind. Sadly he passed away under sedation, shortly after we had taken blood samples and had started administering drips to keep him hydrated.

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Shawu in November 2016

We cannot express enough, just how heartbroken every single one of us are, having walked such a long road with this special young elephant. Shawu was found in November 2016, abandoned, distressed, and severely dehydrated. He was brought to HESC and we took him in and cared for him around the clock, with our team of experienced elephant carers, and nursed him back to health. In April 2018, we made the decision to introduce him to the Jabulani Herd, who have lovingly welcomed orphaned elephants in the past. Shawu’s introduction to the herd was a great success and for the past two months we have monitored his every move.

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Shawu with Towke after the introduction

We could not have asked for a better herd of elephants to have become Shawu’s adoptive family, than the Jabulani Herd. Tokwe, the Matriarch, is an exceptional elephant, warm, loving, protective and extremely nurturing. Her beautiful nature reflects in all of the herd. We find some comfort In our hearts knowing that little Shawu got to finally experience what true love, acceptance and family meant. Not only from the herd, but everyone single person that cared for him at HESC and Camp Jabulani.

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Shawu with the Jabulani herd

This has been an unforeseen, tragic loss to us all and we ask for your understanding and thoughts as we await further insight, to truly understand the condition around his heart failure, from our team of professionals. Perhaps we may have more of an understanding as to why he was abandoned as a young calf by his herd at four months old, but that is something we may never have the answers to unfortunately, we can only speculate.

Thank you to everyone that not only supported Shawu’s journey, but followed his every step and loved him like we did too.

Adine and the team at HESC and CAMP JABULANI.

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