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

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 KIASA  Female  Saturday, April 15, 2017 Tsavo Triangle, Tsavo East National Park  6 months  Found alone with two elephant bulls whilst still milk dependent  Drought Related 

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1/25/2019 - As the days pass, Kiasaís size and body strength are also growing, and so is her streak of naughtiness. She has passed her age-mates in size and her playmates are not keen to play with her as she has a rather cheeky character. These days she has found new playmates who are slightly older than her, being primarily Malima and Emoli. Today during the 9am milk feed, Malima had a very hard time trying to defend her milk bottles from Kiasa who was determined to have more than her share. Despite her bigger size and being able to stand her own, Malima was having trouble with the sassy little girl from Tsavo. As the feeding went on, our attentions turned to Dololo who was really enjoying his milk bottle. He was drinking it in style and even raising his front feet. When the bottle was finished he continued to suckle on it to make sure there were no drops left. As the Keeper removed the teat from his mouth he complained and yelled bitterly, as though to say he was not done yet!

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

 Kiasa looking well Bedtime for Kiasa
Kiasa looking well
photo taken on 11/30/2017
Bedtime for Kiasa
photo taken on 11/30/2017


This story began with Neville Sheldrick on a routine patrol flight in one of the Trustís planes, heading to the Southern sector of Tsavo East National Park from the DSWT Kaluku headquarters. While en route, in an area known as the triangle towards the Tsavo and Athi River junction, he noticed a tiny elephant calf escorted by two big bull elephants. He flew the area scouring for evidence of elephant herds but sighted no other elephants in the area.

A few days earlier while on an aerial patrol he had reported the sighting of a dead female who had succumbed to the effects of drought not far from this very same location. Concerned that something was not quite right with this picture, he reported the matter to both the Kenya Wildlife Service and also to the DSWT Kaluku operations room so that DSWT pilot Andy Payne could fly in the helicopter to take a closer look and confirm that he was accurate in his assessment of the situation. GPS coordinates of the location of the two bulls and baby were shared while Neville continued on to complete his patrol in the south where the drought had really taken hold, with numerous elephants dying as a result of a lack of food due to failed rains. It was confirmed that they were indeed two bull elephants with a tiny baby and that there were no females or other elephants in the area. Neville coordinated with KWS Veterinary Officer Dr. Jeremiah Poghon working with the DSWT funded Mobile Veterinary Unit based in Tsavo, to be flown to the closest airstrip which was in fact on the north bank of the Galana River. The Trustís Mtito Desnaring team which works together with KWS was directed to the location as well.

Kiasa walking with two elephant bulls  Kiasa walking with two bulls

Kiasa with the two bulls  Approaching Kiasa in the vehicle

Without motherís milk this calf would most certainly die, as she was estimated to be anywhere from five to eight months old. The fact that so many elephants had succumbed to the effects of drought this year, and the location of the recently discovered carcass of a dead female, left little doubt that she was an orphan being cared for by these well-meaning gentle bulls, but sadly while they could give her the comfort and much needed protection from predators, they could not provide her with vital milk to sustain life, and conditions still remained desperately dry.

KWS Vet Dr. Poghon was collected by Neville and flown from the Voi headquarters to the closest airstrip, this was however quite a distance from where the trio of elephants were on the southern bank. On arrival they were met by Andy in the helicopter and flown to where the Mtito Team with their vehicle waited for guidance from the air. Dr. Poghon agreed that without a rescue this young baby would not survive, but first flew around to confirm once again that there were no other elephants within the area.

Given the open terrain it was not difficult to gently separate the bulls from the baby with the helicopter so that our ground team could drive up to the baby and capture her safely. She was still strong, but little time was wasted while they prepared the stretcher and tied her legs so that she could be safely loaded into the helicopter and flown directly to the Trustís Nairobi Nursery. With the back seats removed there was ample space for the calf and a team member to sit in the back of the aircraft offering her comfort throughout the one hour flight.

Preparing Kiasa for the flight  Keeping Kiasa cool

Loading Kiasa into the helicopter

The helicopter was able to land at the Nursery and the keepers were on hand to quickly offload the little calf and while still on the stretcher, carry her to a prepared stable. She was desperately thirsty and gulped down fluids, both water and milk and even slept, seemingly exhausted from her ordeal. We placed her in a stable next to Maktao so in the evening when the others returned for the night she had elephant company and interaction that she found reassuring.

Helicopter landing at the Nairobi Nursery

The very next day she was out in the company of the other orphans and while they showed great interest in the new arrival she remained aloof and distant, and this is something we often see with orphans of this age, who miss their lost elephant family and grieve for such a long time, so while they mix with the others they choose to remain separated due to sadness and mourning. It is the human family that are so important during this time as well, providing the attention and love and the gentle tactile care that baby elephants crave so much, so it is no surprise that Kiasa has become completely hooked on her Keepers. Maktao, the other baby in our midst who is hooked on the Keepers too, can at times get possessive and jealous, but Kiasa is no push over, and despite his spirited disapproval she ignores him and stands her ground.
For weeks she would try to return to the stockades during the day, sneaking away from the group to do so, but over the months she has settled into the routine, with Tagwa paying her close and special attention.

Kiasa out in the forest for the first time  Kiasa with her Keepers

Attention seeking!  Kiasa exploring her new surroundings

Kiasa out in the bush

Physically Kiasa has thrived in our care, growing fat and strong, and we are happy to report even her emotional scars are healing fast and she is now interacting with the group more comfortably and playing exuberantly in the midday mud bath, often choosing to spray the midday visitors with mud for fun!

Kiasa looking well  Bedtime for Kiasa

Kiasa with the other orphans  Kiasa messing around


Please see the resources above for more information on KIASA

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