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 The rescue of Nchan - 4/20/2009
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On morning of the 17th April the Milgis Trust scouts in Northern Kenya received a radio report from Lesanchu that an elder has just reported a baby elephant trapped in a well. They immediately left base in the Milgis Trust landrover (Kosma, Lpulet, Lenkulate and Nchardan) for the location. They took with them a blanket, spades, rope, water and rehydration salts along with soda bottles. By 10 O' clock they arrived at Ndonyo Wuas. They then had to hack their way through thick bush to get to where the calf was trapped, and all the while they could hear the baby screaming while struggling to get out. When they reached the baby, they assessed the situation and decided the fastest way to get her out was by throwing a rope loop round her and heaving her out. The well was about ten feet deep, and narrow, and the baby was panicked making the option of people going in difficult. They made a loop with the huge rope and put it around her chest and were able to haul her out. Immediately she was out of the well she began chasing everybody around. Kosma and Lenkulate struggled to catch her but eventually did, and slowly she began to calm down. She was immediately fed 2 liters of rehydration solution and drank water for the rest of the day. The Milgis Scouts had made the decision that they would try everything in their power to reunite the baby calf back with her mother. They ensured that she was not handled too much and observed from a short distance while she wandered around the area screaming calling for her mother. From time to time they doused water over her in order to keep her cool. Everybody there was sure that by 5pm the mother would have returned to find her calf. They sent some scouts on a recce, Lesanchu, Kosma and Lenkulate, to try and locate any elephants in the area but sadly none were found. By evening still no sign so they went about setting up camp below the Ndonyo Wuas rock and left three guys close to the baby who remained near the well. With the fading light others climbed the huge rock with binoculars in hand to monitor for any signs of elephants coming, so that they could alert the remaining men with the calf via radio in time for them to make a hasty retreat. This was done until darkness descended. By 9pm they were beginning to loose hope, fearing that the herd had followed the rain which had that day fallen on the mountains but at 10.34pm two bull elephants came to the well and stood for 5 minutes, listening to the baby's screams. They then drunk water from a different well and left, leaving the calf behind. By this time every body involved in trying to unite the calf back with her mother were struggling to stay awake and keep off mosquitoes, as they were unable to make a fire incase that frightened potential wild herds.

Milgis  Nchan's home range

Nchan's home rangelands

Nchan in the well  Nchan comes out of the Well

The rescue plane on the airstrip

Nchan on the airstrip  Nchan in the back of the pickup

The Milgis airstrip  Nchan with many curious onlookers


The calf is fed milk before preparing her for the flight

Nchan meets the keepers  Nchan and Peter Mbulu

Immediately after she fed she lay down for a sleep, exhausted from everything

The Keepers arrive at the airstrip to find the tiny calf attached to the men that rescued her

Keeper John with some of the community from Milgis

By morning the tiny calf still remained without mum. By now The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust had been made aware of the resuce, and on the morning of the 18th April the plane and Keepers embarked on the long flight  to the Milgis airfield to rescue little Nchan. 

The matress and stretcher are prepared while she slept in the shade  Nchan with some of the community members involved in saving her life

Nchan is placed onto the mattress and stretcher

The keepers strap her legs for the flight  Preparing to lift the calf aboard

Nchan offloaded into the pickup in Nairobi  Frightened little Nchan, not knowing what her fate would be

Meanwhile the scouts had taken the calf directly to the airstrip to wait for the plane. She was so exhausted that she immediately fell fast asleep. Although wiped out from her ordeal, having had a sleepless night crying for her lost elephant mother and family, she was in good condition, and we estimated her age to be approximately 3 to 4 weeks old. We named her Nchan, which means rain in Samburu. It seemed appropriate because the day she arrived in Nairobi she brought with her the much needed rain.   She settled into nursery life fast, and loves the company of the other small orphans along with her Keepers of course, who provide her with the love and attention she craves. Thankfully she is now part of the herd of miniature infant elephants currently in our Nairobi Nursery, numbering no less than 11 under the Mini Matriarchal leadership of Kenia and Dida. They certainly have their hands full trying to keep order amongst so many unruly babies!

Enjoying a drink of water  Nchan now safely in her stable in the Nairobi Nursery

Nchan is hooked on her Keepers  Nchan

Nchan in the Nairobi Nursery


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