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Farewell to Monsoon, heroic matriarch of Samburu

The old elephant girl crushed by drought

30-09-2022 by Leni Frau

The story of the matriarch Monsoon, a female elephant from the Samburu region, is one to be told, to keep in memory after old age and drought have recited the 'de profundis' for her.
Between 2009 and 2014, Monsoon had survived at least five attacks by poachers, being hit several times by numerous bullets and witnessing the killing of two of her cubs.
Cared for and assisted by the association 'Save the elephant', Monsoon surprised everyone by giving birth to five more elephants in 2018, at a more than mature age. Normally elephants do not give birth when they are stressed, so Monsoon's new cubs were celbrated as a sign of recovery and resilience, indicating that the elephants were starting to feel safe again.
Having passed the age of fifty, the matriarch had suffered through the last few seasons of drought and after being rescued from collapse a month ago on 31 August by the Kenyan Wildlife Service North Kenya veterinary unit (supported by Grevy's Zebra Trust, Ewaso Lions and Save the Elephants). The team gave her vitamins and helped her get back on her feet, but two days ago Save the Elephants was again alerted to Monsoon lying on the ground. After consulting the vet, the elephantess was euthanised to end her suffering.

"This is very sad news. Monsoon was a symbol of the ingenuity, individuality and unpredictability of elephants, I mourn her passing,' said Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton. 'Unfortunately, the rain forecast for this year is poor and there are fears that the drought could continue until 2023, which is very worrying. We are working with our partners, local communities and the Kenyan government to address the long-term problems that the drought will pose for both wildlife and communities and we are doing our best to prevent more elephants like Monsoon from dying."

(photo © Jane Wynyard/Save the Elephants)

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