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

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 MELIA  Female  Thursday, July 3, 2008 Near the Mombasa Pipeline opposite the Ndara plains in Tsavo East National Park  1 year  The calf was found all alone by our De-snaring team with no other elephants in sight  Poaching 

Latest Updates on MELIA:

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

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

7/4/2018 - Mutara’s group was sleeping soundly outside the stockade and were woken by the noise of the gates as the juniors were being let out. Shortly later, the orphans were joined by Kasigau, Kilaguni, Meibai, Melia, Chemi Chemi, Chaimu and Kilaguni. Tusuja seized the opportunity to test his strength by engaging Meibai in a strength testing exercise while Turkwel settled to chat with Enkikwe as she tried to find out how he was feeling now. Later, Enkikwe walked to the water trough and joined a wild bull that had come for water.

As they all started to leave, Siangiki and Olsekki, who are Enkikwe's friends, walked down to where Enkikwe was relaxing and informed him that it was time to leave. Though Enkikwe was reluctant to leave the lucerne he was feeding on, he later followed them carrying some lucerne with his trunk. An hour later, Yatta and her group in the company of four wild bulls passed by the stockade to drink water. They later settled for lucerne leftovers before heading to join the juniors. In the mix up, the group made off with Sapalan and the Keepers realized at mud bath that he was not with their group. A search was mounted but by evening, Yatta and her group could not be traced. At dark the search could not continue and the Keepers returned to base frustrated, hoping that the group might bring him back at night or by morning. If they did not then the search would continue. Earlier in the year on the 10th April, Sapalan had dodged the Keepers and left with Mutara’s group, only to be brought back in the morning. Sapalan who is independent and always keeps to himself has tried to dodge the Keepers many times, as he is obviously yearning to be independent, but he is always found.

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

 The Rescue vehicle at the airstrip Melia at the Voi Unit Stockade
The Rescue vehicle at the airstrip
photo taken on 8/6/2009
Melia at the Voi Unit Stockade
photo taken on 6/28/2009


During the late evening of Saturday 27th June, a yearling female calf was found all alone by our De-Snaring team near the Mombasa Pipeline opposite the Ndara plains in Tsavo East National Park. There were no wild elephant herds in sight, and since there were also a lot of lions in the area, our Voi Elephant Keepers were alerted that a rescue was imminently needed to save the life of this calf who probably would not survive another night out alone. Baby elephants definitely cannot survive without milk if orphaned under 3 years of age, and few manage to survive even when orphaned between 3 and 5 years of age. Whilst wild living elephants will usually accept and protect an orphaned baby to the best of their ability, once the orphan weakens as a result of milk deprivation, and begins to jeopardize the survival of the herd, the Matriarch has to make the decision to abandon it to its fate in the interests of all the others under her leadership. There are very few, if any, elephants that will have to lactating capacity to nurture an orphan as well as their own calf, especially during a tough dry spell, and calves at foot themselves are extremely possessive of their mother’s milk bar, and will go to great lengths to prevent another from usurping what they view as their prerogative.

The DSWT team capture the orphan  Capturing the calf

Loading the orphan on to rescue vehicle at Ndara  Melia at the Voi Unit Stockade

With the help of KWS Rangers, our Voi Elephant Keepers were able to overpower the abandoned calf, and having covered its head with a blanket and bound its legs, transported it back to the Voi Stockades for the night where it took water, and a little milk from a bucket. The next morning it was airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery., initially named “Sombe” after the KWS Security Commander, but later renamed Melia after the African Mohogany Trees (Melia Volkensi) which are a feature of the area ad were planted by the late David Sheldrick around the Headquarters and at the 5 Entrance Gages to Tsavo East National Park.

The Rescue vehicle at the airstrip  The calf is lifted off the truck and into the plane

The calf is under stress from the whole experience of being orphaned & rescued

The DSWT rescue team lift the orphan into the rescue plane

Melia, a feisty elephant upon arrival

Little “Melia” was quite feisty upon arrival in the Nursery (a good sign) and gave her Keepers quite a run around during her first night in the stockade abutting that of Tassia. However, she took water from a bucket and during the night managed some milk from a bottle, though not without a struggle. However, having been in the stockade for 24 hours, and observed the behaviour of the other Nursery orphans around their Keepers, she had calmed down sufficiently to suck the Keepers’ fingers and take milk.

Melia upon arrival at the Nairobi Nursery  Melia

Melia and her keeper


Please see the resources above for more information on MELIA

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