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 The resuce of Kitirua - 10/1/2010
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This calf from Amboseli National Park was sited on the 14th September 2010 in amongst the W.A. Family, so named for identification purposes by the Amboseli Researchers who have studied the Amboseli wild elephant population for the past 40 odd years. On the 29th the calf was again spotted by Norah of the Research Unit, but this time was all alone not far from the Swamp. She was thin, so had obviously been without her mother for several days. The fate of the mother is not known for sure, but she is suspected to have been the victim of poaching. Another possibility is that the calf became bogged in the swamp and subsequently abandoned by the herd.

  Amboseli from the air

Elephants below  Amboseli

Amboseli elephants

Soila of the Amboseli Research Team reported the presence of the orphaned calf to the KWS Warden of Amboseli before alerting Cynthia Moss in Nairobi who alerted the Trust that a rescue was needed. The plane left at 2 p.m. with Keepers from the Trust’s Nairobi Park Elephant Nursery and all the paraphernalia needed for the rescue aboard, while a second plane flew in a French Television Unit, who happened to doing a documentary on the Orphaned Elephants. 

Preparing to land  Aden, Amos, Julius and Zoom Zoom

Landing at Amboseli  The French film crew

Preparing for the rescue  The orphaned calf

Kitirua just before rescue

The team was met at the Amboseli strip and transported to where the calf was close the swamp. Although visibly emaciated, the calf was easily restrained and captured by the Trust’s Keepers, and put up little resistance. After a short journey back to the airstrip, just as daylight faded, they took off for the forty five minute return flight to Nairobi. Covered with a blanket and strapped down in the plane she remained motionless throughout the flight, with our Keepers close at hand. One can only imagine how frightening the whole experience must have been for her. On arrival at Wilson airport in Nairobi she was driven to the Trust Nursery, arriving after dark at about 8 p.m. 

Reaching the calf  Even the pilots got involved in the rescue proceedings

Even the pilots got involved!  Restraining the calf

Capturing the calf  Trying to capture the calf

Checking on the calf  The restrained calf

Restraining her for the journey  The calf and the Keepers in the back of the KWS landcruiser pickup

In the back of the landrover  Aden pleased that the rescue ordeal is behind them

Amos driving back to the airstrip  Zoom Zoom

A KWS vehicle drives the team and orphan back to the airstrip  On the way to the airstrip they passed an Amboseli bull

She is a female calf, still without tusks, so aged between 15 and l8 months and at the suggestion of the Amboseli Researchers she was named “Kitirua”, the name of the hill overlooking the Swamp. She still had sufficient strength to give her Keepers a run-around throughout the night, but with lots of t.l.c. and the input of the other orphans and the milk of course she soon tamed down. After three days was able to join the others, and she is now is fully integrated into the Nursery and thankfully putting on weight. It is heartwarming to see her love for the new elephant family she has inherited, just when hers was lost, and to see her find happiness again. She is one of the lucky ones, rescued by many people who did so much to ensure she had a second chance. 

Loading the calf into the rescue plane before heading back to Nairobi  Loading the calf as the sun faded

The details of the rescue are written down  The flight back to Nairobi

Returning to Nairobi  Kitirua being greated warmly by the Nursery elephants the morning after her rescue

   

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