The following is information on the Elephant Orphan named: RAPSU  (foster now)

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 RAPSU  Male  Thursday, May 29, 2003 Meru National Park  Estimated just under two years old  He was found abandoned, with no other elephants in the area.  Man Made Cause for Separation 

Latest Updates on RAPSU:

View to Location map for RAPSU (opens a new window)

Most Recent Keeper's Diary Entry: (view all the latest entries for RAPSU)

11/16/2018 - The dependent orphans had their milk this morning before joining ex-orphans Rapsu and Buchuma who were outside. They interacted around the Lucerne feeding area. Lemoyian walked to the water trough to drink water and was later followed by the others. They all made sure to have a good drink and wash all the pellets down before walking out to the bush for the day.

We watched Olsekki and Mundusi stretching high to reach some fresh leaves from a tree. Wanjala and Karisa were enjoying the fresh green pasture with Siangiki.

At the mud bath today we had a big wild bull who was waiting for the water bowser to come so that he could have some water. The truck came in and the orphans had their milk and walked to the trough. They met a wild bull there who was very friendly and allowed the orphans to drink alongside him. When they were done they went to the mud wallow as it was quite a warm day. They swam in a line and enjoyed playing in the water. They later came out and walked to the bush again to browse. Enkikwe scratched on a tree as he browsed. Pare was busy searching for fresh pasture. The orphans later made their way back home in the evening for their milk.

The Two Latest Photos of RAPSU: (view gallery of pictures for RAPSU)

 Rapsu now comfortable with the other orphans Rapsu
Rapsu now comfortable with the other orphans
photo taken on 5/10/2005
photo taken on 5/10/2005


A phone call from Mark Jenkins, Warden of Meru National Park, on the 25th April 2005 alerted us to the fact that he had spotted a young elephant, all alone and far from any other herds, who was obviously an orphan, and too young to survive without milk. Whilst we prepared all the gear, yet again, for the second rescue within a week (little Kora being the first), the Meru Park Rangers set forth to capture the calf, who turned out to be a bull just short of two years old, with tusks just visible through the lip but still very strong, although terribly thin; prominent cheek bones indicating a starvation case who had been without his mother’s milk probably for over two weeks (No calf younger than 2 can survive without milk, even though they may be eating vegetation, and those orphaned between the ages of 2 and 5 seldom make it without nutritional supplementation in the form of coconut, which contains the right sort of fat a young elephant needs for survival).

Rapsu was sighted abandoned in Meru National Park by the warden Mark Jenkins while doing aerial surveillance  It took numerous people to capture the calf

The place where he was found within Meru National Park is known as “Rapsu”, and this word in the Orma language means “a place with a lot of rocks”. It is an area normally popular with the Meru elephants during the wet season of April/May, each year, but on this occasion, the orphan now named “Rapsu” (to identify his origin) was the only one in the area, indicating that some terrible incident must have taken place, depriving him of his mother and driving the elephant herds away. (Apparently, a woman had been killed by an elephant outside the Park round about the time this elephant became an orphan but an elephant body has yet to be found. He could have been orphaned as a result of a stampede caused by community retribution. Illegal firearms are very common within the community, so there may be wounded elephants as a result).

Rapsu lies in the back of the landcruiser having been captured  Rapsu is prepared for the flight

Capturing this calf was a challenge, and even more of a challenge was transporting him un-sedated in the Caravan Aircraft that flew up for the rescue. However, the Trust’s Rescue team is now very experienced, and once his legs were bound together and he was loaded onto the rescue tarpaulin and heaved into the plane by about 10 men, there was little resistance he could make. Meanwhile, some adjustments had to be made back home. Shida, the baby rhino, had to be up-graded to Magnum’s ex-Stockade; Galana moved into Shida’s night quarters, and her Stockade prepared for this large latest arrival.

Rapsu's trunk over the back door of the landcruiser  Rapsu was strapped securely down in the aircraft


Upon arrival at 5 p.m. he was given the prophylactic antibiotic injection before being untied, when, in order to avoid being crushed, everyone had to make a hurried exit as he got to his feet. Desperately thirsty, he took water from a bucket placed outside the Stockade, but the sight of a human, even one holding a bottle of milk, provoked an angry reaction. However, during the night he drank milk from a bucket, and by the next day would accept it from the bottle, having seen all the other Nursery inmates drink theirs in this way. Administering the second of the three antibiotic injections needed also proved quite a challenge. A blanket had to be thrown across his head, whilst some 10 men rushed in to restrain him in a corner so that the Vet could deal with him. It took him a week to settle down but he soon became as docile as all the other orphans.

Once in a stockade at the Nairobi Nursery the Keepers began the difficult task of taming him  Rapsu in an emaciated state, he had obviously been without his mother for over two weeks.

Rapsu makes friends with Kora

Rapsu was a good-looking little bull, with the longest eyelashes in the Nursery, and soft dark brown eyes. It became evident that he had a real problem with his left eye, and with the eye and inner eyelid tightly closed due to swelling it was impossible for any treatment to reach the intended place. As the days passed he seemed to have no sight in that eye. We resorted to sedating him in an effort to really have a close look at the problem. The operation revealed a large ulcer on the eye, and it was clear that this operation took place not a moment too soon as a perforated ulcer results in instant loss of sight permanently. Under sedation we were able to get the ointment deep to the intended spot, and thankfully every day the eye has made a gradual improvement.

Operating on Rapsu's eye  Rapsu now comfortable with the other orphans


Rapsu eventually made a full recovery and was a great asset to the group, the perfect sparring partner for the other little boys. Later he joined joined Napasha, Taita and Tomboi at the Ithumba Unit, who he is still friends with to this day and we often see him around Ithumba, when he comes to greet his old human family and see the dependent orphans too.

Please see the resources above for more information on RAPSU

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