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 The rescue of Kudup - 5/15/2009
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The 13th May 2009 was both a bad and good day for the elephants of the Mathews range in the area overseen by the Milgis Trust and their Scouts.   It was a bad day because yet another baby elephant had fallen down one of the wells in the lower Milgis lugga at a place called Kudup and it was a good day in that a huge downpour of rain relieved the long and severe drought that had taken such a devastating toll of many young elephant lives, several milk dependent older calves having been found already dead from both drought and thirst, unable to reach the water in deep wells, or who had lost their mother to poachers.

The team of men involved in going to rescue Kudup  The rescue team for Kudup head to the plane

Flying in the Milgis lugga was flowing from the rains that fell in the mountains  The flood waters of the Milgis

Because of the heavy rain storm, there was actually no need for the local tribesmen to visit the wells in the Milgis Lugga for there was rain water everywhere.  However, very fortunately, one man just happened to be passing by, and heard the bellows of the baby elephant down one of the wells.   Upon inspection it was obvious that her elephant mother had desperately tried to extract the baby, for she had dug all round the sides of the well with her tusks, but the ground was hard, and the well deep, so in the end she had accepted defeat and been forced to leave her precious baby to a slow and lingering death.   One can just imagine the agony of that decision, and the grief that mother felt on that fateful day.

The caravan parked on the Milgis airstrip while the Keepers await the arrival of the rescued calf  Anton the pilot

Sammy  Waiting on the airstrip for Kudup's arrival

The passer-by managed to get a message to the Milgis Trust Headquarters and a 5 man rescue team was soon at the scene.   They managed to manoeuvre a rope loop around the torso of the calf, the baby making this easier by standing on her back legs in a desperate attempt to get out.   Having been hauled out, she was strong enough to give her rescuers a run-around, for the immediately began chasing them.   The team did their best to calm her down and eventually managed to restrain her and tie her legs, as others went in search of any nearby herds that might include the mother.   The Milgis Trust also positioned people on all available high ground to try and search for elephant herds, or any lone cow that might be the calf's mother, hoping to be able to reunite her with her elephant mother.

Off loading the baby  She was called Kudup, the name of the area she was found

Kudup clings to those that have rescued her  Kudup

One of the young men involved in saving Kudup's life  Kudup in the back of the landrover

The calf arrives in the back of the landrover  A member of the community involved in Kudup's rescue

Some of the community guys involved in saving Kudups life

As the men with the calf waited for a miracle, suddenly at 1.30 p.m. a huge wall of water came flooding down the Milgis lugga higher up near the Headquarters, which would definitely have drowned the little elephant had the passerby not found her in time.   If ever there was a lucky little orphan, it has to be this one.   The men remained with the baby all that day and throughout a very uncomfortable night, surrounded by hungry hyaenas who had an eye on a free meal, fearful that they might be taken unawares by a visiting herd of elephants, or perhaps the return of the mother.    One old bull appeared during the night, splashing his way across the shallows in the lugga, which had not yet received the flood.   The men prepared themselves to have to beat a hasty retreat, should he turn aggressive, but he merely looked at the calf, who was bellowing loudly and was desperate to join him, before moving on. 

Amos  An adorable little calf, robbed of her mother only the night before

Helen Douglas Dufresne  who's work through the Milgis Trust has resulted in enormous goodwill  The colourful and attractive scene the surrounds the rescue of Kudup

Amos communicates to the Samburu community about how important their conservation efforts are

At about 5 a.m. the wall of rainwater came down in a massive flood and at first light the search for wild elephants, and the mother of the calf began afresh.   However, there were no elephants to be found anywhere, all obviously having left, released from their drought stricken dry weather range by the rain.   It was then that an elephant rescue became a "must" the Trust meanwhile standing by, all the while praying that this baby might just be lucky enough to be reunited with her elephant mother.   However, it was not to be and she was airlifted to safety during the afternoon of the 14th May 2009, and at the request of her rescuers, was named "Kudup" - the name of the place where she was saved on that fateful day.

She thirstily takes some milk  The warriors who helped save the calf look on as Kudup is prepared for the flight

Amos with one of the men involved in saving Kudup  Sammy with Kudup

The colourful scene that surrounded Kudup's rescue  Kudup peeps around the Keepers leg

The vulnerable little calf makes friends with the Keepers  Making friends with Kudup

Samburu community  Kudup during the flight back to Nairiobi

Kudup at the Nursery in Nairobi on the same day, passionate about water and mud  Kudup in the mud

Obviously a drought baby, Kudup just could not get enough of water and mud


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