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)

5/28/2018 - Shortly before the 6am milk feed time, Kauro couldn't wait for his milk any longer. He picked up a piece of stick and put it in his mouth and pretended that he was now having his milk by suckling on the stick. The gentle boy was happy to see the keepers approaching him with the real thing. He dropped the stick and enjoyed taking his milk. After the morning milk, the orphans settled to feed on lucerne before heading to the browsing field. Karisa had brief strength testing exercise with Galla and then Karisa attempted to ride on Galla. This is the same Karisa who used to be quiet and shy. These days the street-wise boy has gained confidence and is more interactive with his herd. Out in the field Siangiki and Olsekki who are great friends settled to feed together. The two played the same game of competing who could kneel and use their mouths to uproot the grass.

Out in the field, the juniors were joined by Mutara, Suguta, Kainuk, Turkwel, Sities, Kanjoro and Kilaguni. The ex-orphans browsed with the juniors until mud bath time when they escorted them for a cool-off exercise at mud bath. The herd had a prolonged mud-bath given that the sun was so hot. Kilaguni and Kanjoro stole the show by pairing up as the tailless team who were left wallowing even after the rest of the herd had quit and left. In the afternoon, Mutara’s group parted ways with the juniors and met them again in the evening on the way back to the stockade.

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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