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

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 TURKWEL  Female  Friday, May 8, 2009 South Turkana Game Reserve  Approximately 4 - 5 months  Tribesman resported her abandoned in a high conflict zone near the Wei Wei River  Poaching 

Latest Updates on TURKWEL:

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

11/28/2018 - The orphans had their milk bottles before leaving straight for the bush today. Mutara and her group including Turkwel, Suguta, Kanjoro, Sities, Kainuk and Kibo, who is not usually part of that group, arrived and joined the orphans requesting to be supplied with Lucerne. Turkwel seems to be doing very well with Mutara’s herd and we were happy to see her looking so well, happy to be back with her older friends. Garzi and Kanjoro started play-fighting, while Turkwel scratched her neck on a gate post.

All the orphans browsed in the bush, with Mutara's herd slightly separate from the dependent orphans. Later, the orphans came across a small water pool that they started to play in before it was their next feeding time beside the mud bath.

It was cold when they reached the mud bath and the orphans just decided to have their milk and not wallow. A few of them walked to have a drink of water, and then joined their friends who were already back to browsing.

A few hours later it started raining and the orphan elephants became all hyper. They were rolling down in the mud and several of them were very active and played vigorously. Kamok and Pare started play-fighting, as all the others were down in the mud rolling in different styles. The herd later walked back home in the evening for their milk again.

Kithaka, Laragai, Barsilinga and Garzi did not turn up this evening, but they will come later as they always do. They don't sleep out, but they also don’t like to stay with the dependent orphans the whole day. We received 12mm of rain and we still expect more tonight. No other ex-orphans or wild elephants appeared today.

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

 Abdul on Turkwel's rescue. At the airstrip our team go through the medicine
Abdul on Turkwel's rescue.
photo taken on 8/4/2009
At the airstrip our team go through the medicine
photo taken on 8/4/2009


The rescue of a baby elephant on the 4rd August 2009 was one of the more dramatic that has ever been undertaken. The 4 month old calf must surely rank as both the luckiest and unluckiest of elephant babies – lucky to have been found intact in the very remote and hostile region around South Turkana Reserve and unluckiest to have been born into a an area inhabited by wild and warring pastoral people of the Pokot and Turkana tribes who are constantly in conflict over the sparse resources centered around land and livestock, and have been so since time immemorial. Theirs is a forgotten Wild West frontier in Kenya where wildlife lives in a perpetual war zone, made that much worse by the fact that in this remote area almost every male tribesman now carries not a spear, or bows and arrows, but an AK47 machine gun, and uses it with impunity.

Abdul on Turkwel's rescue.  The Turkwel dam

Turkwel airstrip  Views from the airstrip.

The Trust received the rescue alert from the Kenya Wildlife Service during the evening of the 3rd August, too late to initiate a rescue that day. The rescue team therefore left at 7am the following morning (4th August) and after a 2 hour plane journey landed at the Turkwel Airstrip, near the Nasalot and South Turkana National Reserves, at 9:30am where they had to await the arrival of the calf. Gunshots were heard going off in the distance while the team waited, so this delay on the ground was nerve wracking to say the least.

Turkwel in the back of the landcruiser that rescued her  At the airstrip our team go through the medicine

The calf arrives at the airstrip after a long wait.jpg  The calf's arrival

Some of the heros involved in saving Turkwel

Even more nerve wracking was the rescue of the calf. The Deputy Warden of the Nasalot and South Turkana National Reserves Mr. Nduati James organized a very high risk and brave rescue of the little elephant, who had been spotted alone near the Wei Wei River and was heading into an extremely high conflict zone. A protected team of Rangers, escorted by armed paramilitary personnel of both the General Service Units and Police set off to retrieve the calf as it approached the Juluk area where they risked attack by armed bandits who had blocked all roads leading into the area. It took the team all morning to clear the roads of obstructions in order to get a vehicle to the calf.

Unfortunately wildlife is caught in the middle of a very serious and ongoing tribal conflict for in order to access water and feeding grounds the animals have to cross the Kerio valley corridor to enter Nasalot Game Reserve from Romoi Game Reserve, where they are caught in the crossfire of the warring Pokot and Turkana people.

Feeding Turkwel  The calf at the airstrip.jpg

Elephants especially are a prime target – their tusks used as barter for guns, sold to unscrupulous middlemen of the infamous Ivory trade, their meat used to feed the rebels and others living in this impoverished region, where life on the edge is exacerbated by severe drought. It is, in fact, a miracle that any elephant still manage to exist in this conflict zone.

The calf at the airstrip.jpg  The calf is laid on the matress and canvas stretching in preperation for the journey to Nairobi.jpg

Loading the calf into the plane.

The calf is prepared for the long flight to Nairobi.jpg

We named our latest little living miracle Turkwel. She is the third elephant orphan we have from the area. “Nasalot” of Yatta’s Ithumba unit being one and Ajok who came to us in 1990 the other. She is a very gently and loving little elephant who has been embraced by all at the Trust, both her little elephant peers as well as the humans.

The Trust pickup collects the calf at  Wilson Airport  Nairobi

Turkwell with Edwin on arrival at the nursery.  She was named Turkwel after the Turkwel river

Turkwel settled in the Nairobi nursery


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