Echo's bump: a confession by the man who shot Echo

Wed, 2009-05-20 09:42 by hcroze
Echo and Esprit Echo's bump Echo, 4 Apr 09 Adieu, Echo

As Echo's family continues to mill around rather aimlessly in several small groups, I thought I'd share a couple of images of her and the story of how she got the bump on her bottom.

See the two first images above. In the one of Echo and Esprit in February 2005 you can just make out the outline of the the bump on her upper thigh. The other is a close-up taken in 2006.

I have to confess that the bump was my doing. In 1974 we decided to put radio collars on several elephants to track their movements in and out of the Park. Echo was the second target (Sona was the first: we started naming the collared ladies with radio-sounding names -- hence 'Echo' -- but quickly gave up with number three, Bertha).

Anyway, Echo's operation went smoothly. She and the tiny EB family -- only six members back then, compared to nearly 40 today -- were in the open to northeast. Using a compressed air gun I put the dart squarely in her lower right rump. She went down a few minutes later, we attached the collar, cleansed the dart wound and administered the antidote. Off she and the EBs went.

But obviously the dart wound hadn't been cleaned properly and it went a bit septic, resulting, after a couple of weeks, in her 'beauty mark'. Almost as iconic as her tusks, if I may say so.

I have lived with the guilt of her disfigurement these many years, arguing to her every time we met that, as the old adages goes, 'there is beauty in imperfection'. I believe she forgave me. The last time I saw her alive,  4 April, already she was looking a bit frail (see third picture above). But as she shuffled past the car one last time -- she got so close to my open window that I couldn't even get her in the frame with a 24mm lens -- I knew by the look in her eyes that she had forgiven me.

As saddened as we all were over Echo's death, we were heartened by the high regard in which Kenyans held her. One of Kenya's main TV stations, NTV, ran a Mother's Day special spot on Echo on the 9:00 o'clock evening news on 10 May. It's clunky and sad, but it does show the high regard in which Echo was held by all... The second clip is an interview with Patrick Omondi of KWS on the same show. It shows the concern and awe in which many Kenyans hold the Amboseli elephants.

Some friends have reporting problems in viewing the clips on this site. Let me know if you have a problem (and what browser + version you are using). You can also see the clips directly at  NTV first part and second part

Great Star!

Wed, 2011-03-09 20:05 by bea

Echo was one great matriarch and a star all over the world!!
Thanks for sharing Echo's story with us,It's a very emotional moment.

Echo's bump

Tue, 2011-03-08 18:13 by BluAbbeyCat

Thank you for sharing your touching story of Echo's bump .. Oh yes! .. I also believe Echo forgave you and, I believe Echo loved you too. Afterall (love) is what Echo was all about all of her extraordinary and wonderful life ... I was able to watch the first part of the video OK .. but not the second part. I have Windows Internet Explorer and AOL ..(maybe) thats my problem..?? My computer is old and does not always run good anymore..

Great Story

Tue, 2009-05-26 03:30 by Shuger66

Thanks for sharing about your experience of leaving 'your mark' on lovely Echo. She was one grand matriarch and she is why I love elephants like I do. The picture of her body is hard to see, but I understand the circle of life.

Famous bump

Mon, 2009-05-25 08:36 by Christoph REAeV

Harvey, I'm sure she forgave you long time ago :)
Certainly it was one of the most famous bumps in the world and identification mark besides her magnificent tusks for so many people who watched the BBC documentaries or came across to the EB's in Amboseli.
Thanks for sharing this story and the videos on YouTube.


Like Telling an Old Friend's Story

Wed, 2009-05-20 13:06 by hge

Thank you Harvey for sharing Echo’s story with us.
I LOVE the first picture. It's so beautiful at every aspect.
Have a great day!

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