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 

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

2/3/2018 - Two wild bulls were drinking water at the stockade water troughs when the orphans were let out. Also present at the stockade compound were Olare’s group, Narok’s group, Mutara’s group, Chaimu and Kilaguni. After Tusuja and Galla had enough lucerne, the two settled into a morning warm up exercise by pushing one another since the weather was chilly. At one point, Galla sat down trying to show Tusuja how talented he was since he can also play fight while seated. On the way to the browsing field, Kamok who rarely engages in pushing games tried to show Galla and Tusuja that, although she might be quiet sometimes, she too can act. Kamok separated the two boys who were involved in a pushing game and dared any of them who felt offended to turn and face her. Tusuja and Galla did not dare do anything to Kamok because they saw she meant business!

Mutara’s group later joined the juniors. At mud bath time, the weather was windy and none of the orphans dared to go in the water. Tusuja had a brief chat with Turkwel asking how life outside the stockade was treating him, since in the near future he would like to join them. The sky cleared giving way to sun shine. The orphans converged under a tree while continuously flapping their ears. In the evening, Mutara and her group fed a distance away from the orphans. All over sudden something scared them, prompting a stampede in which the group headed to the stockade. Their stampede caused panic and tension amongst the orphans. The orphans couldn't wait for the unknown and so followed the Ex Orphans at high speed. Barsilinga who was limping, could hardly run and so dragged himself slowly and arrived safely late in the evening at the stockade. They stayed around the stockade for a while. We are not sure what scared them or indeed if there was anything and they just got spooked, but it is good they came back to the stockades for safety anyway.

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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