The past two weeks have been tough for orphaned elephant Mopane, who we estimate to be around 11 months old now. This little elephant is normally so full of inquisitive energy and high spirits, that it was a huge concern and scare, when his condition started to change.

Mopane getting blood transfusion

Mopane showed a decline in his energy levels, which was a result of a loss of appetite. He would not finish his milk bottles, and was not grazing as much as he normally does.
Wildlife vets, Dr Peter Rogers and Janelle, were called immediately, assess Mopane’s condition. They decided to do a standing sedation, to be able to give him a drip, which ensured he was kept well hydrated. During this process, they took blood samples which were sent to a laboratory to get a better understanding of what we may be missing through visual observation.
Dr Rogers gives Mopane a drip

During the wait for the results, Mopane’s condition did improve slightly, however he was still not his bright and sprightly self. The blood results indicated low albumin levels, meaning he was not absorbing protein from his diet. This is commonly seen in rhinos, as a result of ulcers.
HESC Team with Mopane during the drip

The decision was made to give Mopane a blood transfusion. On Thursday 17th October, Dr Rogers and Janelle visited the Camp Jabulani herd, to take some blood from one of the adult elephants. “Setombe”, one of the older female elephants, was sedated with BAM, (refer to a previous BLOG for more information about BAM), which allows for a standing sedation. 
Setombe getting sedated with BAM

Seven pints of blood were taken from Setombe, which was done quickly and smoothly, not causing her too much stress, and she was soon back with the Jabulani herd again.
One Pint of Blood

Just after 4pm on the same day, we started with the blood transfusion to Mopane. It is never an easy process to dart such a young animal, even when using a light and effective tranquilizer such as BAM.
Mopane darted with BAM

Adine and Joshua, (one of Mopane’s carers), were there through the entire process, calming Mopane and soothing him. At times when he got drowsy, the rest of the caretakers moved in to keep him steady.
Two pints of blood for transfusion

Dr Rogers and Janelle were quick to locate a vein on each of his ears, and added a drip and plasma for the transfusion.The plasma protein drip is rich in albumin which is also beneficial for Mopane. At the same time he was treated for cramps and a possible ulcer, as well as administering minerals and vitamins, antibiotics and a de-wormer.
Mopane receiving Blood Transfusion

The entire process too over two hours, as it was a cold evening, and the cooler temperatures cause their veins to contract, restricting the easy of flow of the liquids. Four bags of blood were successfully transfused. It was a very stressful few hours, especially for little Mopane, but we had to do it.
Blood transfusion in process

That evening we watched with much anticipation, to see how his bottle feeding would go. For the first feeding he was not very hungry, but fortunately, later that night, he accepted his second bottle. His energy levels are not where we would like to have them yet, however it is a huge improvement from where he was.
Linri _Mopane
Linri with Mopane

Thank you for all the messages we received an apologies if we do not attend and reply to each one, but we will ensure to communicate any advice given to Dr Rogers, Adine and the curators, who have Mopane’s best interest in heart,  and channeling their energy towards Mopane, where it is needed most.