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

Name Gender Date Born Location Found Age on Arrival Comments Reason for being Orphaned
 ZONGOLONI  Female  Friday, March 2, 2012 Mgeno Ranch  18 months old  Was found standing guard over her collapsed and dying mother  Poaching 

Latest Updates on ZONGOLONI:

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Most Recent Keeper's Diary Entry: (view all the latest entries for ZONGOLONI)

11/29/2017 - Today some wild elephants walked all the way from the Chyulu Hills to come and greet the orphans’ the stockades in the morning. They waited for the orphan herd to come out of their stockades and joined them as they made their way to the browsing grounds. Although the keepers followed at a distance it was not long before the wild bulls saw them following the group. As the wild elephants are still very distrustful of humans they walked faster in an effort to get away from them.

Lima Lima, Zongoloni and Quanza headed into the forest while the bulls separated from the orphan herd and headed in a different direction. As the orphans walked through the forest Murera stopped to pull some bark from an acacia tree. As she fed on the Sonje took the opportunity to get Mwashoti away from her.

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

 The bullet wound Zongoloni with the rest of the nursery orphans
The bullet wound
photo taken on 10/15/2013
Zongoloni with the rest of the nursery orphans
photo taken on 10/12/2013

ORPHAN PROFILE FOR: ZONGOLONI (foster now)


Zongoloni’s heartbreaking story has made grown men cry. This unfolded on Sunday 22nd September.

We first heard about the plight of her mother when we were contacted about an injured female with her calf, within the bush lands of the Taita Sisal Estate. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit was immediately deployed to treat the mother and in order to do so her young calf was also anesthetized. A victim of poaching, a bullet wound had penetrated deep and shattered bone on the right front leg of her mother. Dr. Poghon cleaned the wound and treated her with painkillers, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drugs, but with a bullet possibly still embedded within the bone and bone fragments evident the prognosis for a successful recovery was guarded. Everybody there hoped that this story would end happily.

First sighting of mum.  Swollen right hand front leg  Zongoloni watching over her darted mother

Zongoloni now darted herself, keeping watch  Zongoloni being monitored

The bullet wound  Cleaning the wound

Removing shattered bone  Sealing the wound with green clay

Zongoloni awakens first  Zongoloni waits for her mother to wake

Assisting the mother to get up  Up she gets


A week later the injured mother and calf were again sighted on the Conservancy within the estate. It was noted that her shoulder remained very swollen but it appeared that she could put more weight on the leg. Fortunately her condition did not appear to have deteriorated, it seemed at this point that the outcome would be ultimately positive.

A week later - monitoring their progress


Very tragically after a week passed the collapsed mother and her calf were located by patrolling scouts on Mgeno ranch. She had obviously collapsed a couple of days before as evidence of her desperate struggle to get back to her feet was evident all around where she lay. She was in a distressed condition from the injury, but also because the pair had clearly been without water or food for some time. Her young calf remained by her side at all times, chasing off any intruders, extremely protective of her mother, but her condition was deteriorating too without milk or water. Those that first located the collapsed mother with her dependent young calf waiting helplessly by her side, observed her drinking her dying mother’s urine she was so desperate for fluids. Under the scorching sun, this heartbreaking scene played out, the agony of a single bullet wound and the pain and suffering it wrought as the weeks past.

2 weeks after treatment Zongoloni watches over  Zongoloni chases everyone away

The calf leans on her mother  Keeping guard

Trying to comfort her mother  Too much to bare

Last moments together


It was at this point that Angela Sheldrick was contacted by Kevin Carr-Hartley and his wife Jen from the Taita Sisal estate after they had alerted KWS and the mobile veterinary team. It was clear that the baby was in desperate need of rescuing if she was to live, and sadly her beautiful mother needed to be euthanized and put out of her misery. When the DSWT/KWS Anti-Poaching team from Voi arrived on the scene what they witnessed was so heartbreaking that some were moved to tears. Watching on as this young milk dependent calf stood bravely protecting her dying mother, frightened and confused, robbed of her family.

Last few embraces  Saying goodbye

Capturing the calf  DSWT & KWS capturing Zongoloni

En route to the airtrip


The DSWT Nairobi rescue team were by this time on their way. This was one of two rescues our teams were undertaking on this day, as another calf was being rescued from Amboseli National Park. When the DSWT Keepers landed at the Taita Estate airfield they were immediately taken to Mgeno Ranch. The calf was captured by the team, tranquilized and prepared for the journey back to Nairobi, and her mother was then euthanized.

The calf in the back of the rescue vehicle  The keepers lay hands on the orphan to comfort her

The calf is placed on a drip  Zongoloni being put into the aircraft

Placing the calf in the plane


During the 1 ˝ hour flight the dehydrated calf was placed on a life saving drip. The team arrived after night fall back at the Nairobi Nursery, and she was off loaded and placed into her stockade next to Vuria with Faraja with Jasiri on the other side. The company of the other elephants was comforting for her and she even took some milk from a bottle clearly still calm from the effects of the tranquilizer. She was named Zongoloni, the Taita name for a hill located close to where she was rescued.

On board  In the plane on the way to Nairobi


Zongoloni is approximately 18 months old and was extremely aggressive once the tranquilizer had worn off, and any chance of her taking milk was doubtful, but thankfully she began to feed well on the browse brought into her stockades. Every day during her stay in the stockades the others would be fed around her enclosure so as to give her a sense of new friends, their routines and to show that the Keepers were friendly. Having experienced what she had, Zongoloni was extremely difficult to tame down. It was 12 days before she was tame and comfortable enough taking milk from a bottle, and to join the other Nursery orphans out in Nairobi National Park.

Zongoloni in the stockade with greens  Zongoloni in the stockade


When she was finally let out of her stockade to roam free in the forest with the other elephant orphans and their keepers, we were still concerned that she may run away. Zongoloni remained aggressive, but had by this time become extremely attached to the milk bottle. She amazed us all when she was let out for the first time, as she settled immediately, and fell into the routine of the Nursery orphans seamlessly. The other Nursery orphans were not initially as accepting of her as we had hoped, but as each day passed Zongoloni became more comfortable with her new elephant friends, and them with her.

Zongoloni with the rest of the nursery orphans  Zongoloni browsing while out with the others

Zongoloni having milk at visting


Despite her heartbreaking journey we hope that in time the memory of her mother’s trauma and the family lost will fade. We hope she is able to embrace a new life and find true happiness again amongst the many baby elephants around her who have suffered similar losses.
Her story, along with many before her is such a graphic reminder (as if that is needed) of the price that is paid for ivory.    

Please see the resources above for more information on ZONGOLONI

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