One morning (The People’s Daily along with The Daily Mail reported) in the tiny village of Ba Ka, in Yunnan, an unexpected houseguest came crashing through a bedroom wall. Upon hearing his daughter’s screams, Tie Wen rushed inside. Staring up at him appeared to be 220 pounds of baby elephant. And it was. It was a very young female elephant! But the inquisitive calf was very reluctant to leave. Soon enough, however, with the neighbor’s assist, the one month old calf was nudged and coaxed outside. Still, she lingered.
Although it is not unexpected to see wild elephants in the area it was very unusual to see such a young calf away from its mother. Upon immediate inspection of the baby by the locals of this southwest China community (“situated at over 3000 feet on the side of a mountain” it is home to only 8 families who depend on the cultivation of rubber trees for their livelihood) they found obvious signs of injury and distress.
A “gash on her left hind leg,” although beginning to heal, still left her struggling to walk. This was likely why, the villagers speculated, the baby was initially abandoned by her family. Of course, the baby elephant could have just “wandered off” on her own. An infected umbilical cord and her need for nourishment also weakened the calf.
As they kept a careful watch out for the mother elephant’s return (this never happened) the villagers took to the baby, providing her with life-saving milk and even building her a “make-shift hut.” This after the “forestry police” had doctored her wounds.
One villager, Lou Kaidong, who first coaxed the elephant with milk, soon became the calf’s unofficial parent as the one month old was keen to follow him around. So constantly was he followed, in fact, that the elephant’s distressing cries enveloped him each time he walked away from her. More and more the baby found ways to break out of her little hut in search of Lou Kaidong.
It was at this time that the villagers knew that they could no longer nourish and watch the baby elephant. (Also, they lived constantly with fears of a trampling elephant herd “wrecking havoc” on their homes.) So a decision was made to send her to the care of nearby veterinarians at the Xishuangbanna Wild Elephant Valley.
While it may not have been the best choice for the little elephant in the long run, it was their ultimate decision nonetheless. One can only hope this orphaned elephant will be treated with the kindness she deserves.
(Note: This same establishment operates a “School of Tamed Elephant Performance”, unfortunately. They encourage tourists to come to their park to see their “trained elephants who can not only dance and play football but who can also give massages” to their guests.)
Regrettably that is another issue; another story.
Photo Credit: EuroPics (Cen)