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 Kimana's rescue - 6/20/2008
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On the 27th May 2008 a tiny 3 week old elephant bull calf simply wandered into a ‘manyatta’ (homestead)  seaking the company of the cattle at Kimana Springs, close to the Amboseli National Park.   The Masai owner of the cattle was away at the time, (A scout for KWS)  but his brother noticed a disturbance amongst the cattle, and went along to investigate.   To his surprise, the cause of the disturbance in amongst the herd, was a tiny elephant calf.   He managed to restrain the calf and shepherded it into a safe enclosure, from whence the message about its presence spread rapidly, alerting our Chyulu anti-poaching De-Snaring team as well as Richard Bonham, who owns a tourist camp on the western slopes of the nearby Chyulu hills.   Richard took to the air in his Cessna 206 plane to try and search for the herd, hoping that the calf could be returned to its mother, but there was no sign of a living elephant anywhere within the Kimana Springs area.  This calf had obviously been abandoned for good while.

Kilimanjaro and Amboseli, Kimana's birthplace

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A feisty little calf, Kimana waiting for the DSWT Keepers to arrive on the scene  Kimana at the airstrip with those involved in his resuce

The Kimana Springs lie within the Amboseli ecosystem within the traditional land of the Masai pastoral people who have coexisted with elephants since the beginning of time, sharing their watering places and grazing their cattle on the lush pastures abutting the springs.   However, more recently the Masai landowners have leased land to agricultural tribes such as the Kikuyu, who grow a host of crops, including onions, maize, vegetables, bananas and fruit due to the availability of water from the springs.   Due to this new development, the elephants are no longer welcome in the area which now suffers a great deal of human wildlife conflict, the wildlife, of course, being the losers.   In fact, according to the local press, at least 14 elephants have been killed due to this within recent weeks, so the calf is more than likely been orphaned because of this human wildlife conflict. 

The newly rescued calf at the airstrip with many of those involved in rescuing him  Richard Boham, KWS rangers, DSWT Keepers and the rescued calf

Richard Bonham's plane,  which flew around the area in an attempt to find the calf's family  Dismis is able to feed the tiny calf a bottle of milk before the flight.

The little calf is laid on a mattress to be prepared for the flight to Nairobi  Kimana is prepared for the flight to Nairobi

The calf is prepared for the flight back to Nairobi as everybody looks on  Richard Bonham and his daughter check on the calf one last time before he takes to the air

The Cessna Caravan on the Kimana airstrip just before take off  The rescued calf is strapped down in the plane

Some of the men involved in Kimana's rescue  The rescue story is explained


 
The calf was flown to the Trust’s Nairobi Nursery that afternoon, there to become the llth elephant resident of the Nursery and another addition to the Junior group of Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Siria, Dida and Shimba, who, until the recent arrival of Siria found himself outnumbered by the girls.   As usual we gave the newcomer a name that will always identify his origin -  “Kimana”.   He was welcomed by all the others with unbridled joy and caring, Lesanju especially beside herself to have another tiny baby in her group.

Kili with Masai cattle in the foreground  Evidence of the cultivation taking place in what was the elephants rangelands

From the start, he demonstrated that he was no push-over, head butting anyone who, in his opinion, did not belong to his new herd  i.e. the many admiring visitors, and even Daphne Sheldrick when she returned from Tsavo and was first introduced to him.   We felt it prudent that he occupy one of the vacant stables, fearing that he might be tempted to suck too much on the ears of a stable companion which could blunt his appetite, but after the first night he made this quite clear that it did not suit him.   Strangely enough, nor did it suit Shimba, who had been used to having Dida in with him, (until she made it clear that she wanted to be in with Lesanju and Lempaute).   Both Kimana and Shimba refused to sleep a wink the second night, so on the third night we relented, and the baby was allowed to share a stable with Shimba, after which both have been settled and sleeping soundly.   Kimana is still strong, and in good condition, and he has slotted into the Nursery routine like a veteran, very much an integral part of Lesanju’s Junior herd, adored by all the elephant girls, and the pride and joy of Lesanju who is very much the the Mini Matriarch of the Junior Group.   He has also met the older group of Lenana, Makena and Chyulu, but only briefly, because they will shortly be moved to the Ithumba Unit.   They too were excited and enchanted to welcome him into the Nursery orphaned family.

The tiny calf is off loaded into the Trust's pickup at Wilson airport Nairobi  The trust team at Wilson Airport

The tiny baby is helped to his feet by the Keepers  Kimana restrained in the back of the pickup

Our tiny new comer attracts great interest from our Elephant Keepers

Kimana's tail and some other parts of his body has tiny sores, probably from thorns  Kimana with his bucket of water


Kimana with Lesnaju offering emotional support  Kimana at three weeks old is the youngest presently in the nursery

   

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