We have been following Matambu for 15 years. Over the years Matambu has come to trust our research team, greeting us with low thunderous contact rumbles and often walking over to the vehicle to share a pool of shade with us.
Matambu, meaning long legs in Shangaan, was the name bestowed upon this beautiful bull by Joubert de Lange who sponsored his collar. In 2013 we noticed he had problems with his sight. In 2017 the ophthalmologist, Dr. Izak Venter assessed his condition during a routine recollaring operation Nothing much could be done about his failing sight but his body condition was good as he clearly had learnt to live with his handicap. Not being a very social elephant, possibly due to his blindness, he has paid us a large compliment by snoring right next to our vehicle at arms-reach. With the afternoon siesta over he would give the lets-go-rumble for us to follow as he slowly moved off.
Recently we noticed that he was walking with great difficulty and was clearly in pain from an injury near the base of his tail which was also preventing him from urinating properly. Wildlife Vets (Drs. Ben Muller and Joel Alves) were quick to the rescue, cleaning the wounds and delivering large doses of anti-inflammatories. The prognosis didn’t look good at one stage and we feared we would lose him. However, miraculously he hasn’t succumbed to the suspected peritonitis. We are still keeping a watchful eye on this peace loving giant and are delighted to report that he now also has the Askari (named Whispers) keeping a watchful eye over him on the days we can’t check up on our old friend Matambu.
We are very grateful to Edwin Pierce and Almero Bosch from the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and Bryan Havemman from the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve for assisting and supporting the treatments of Matambu. Riaan de Lange kindly issued the capture permits.