An orphan from Kwale is rescued

They say that things go in threes and just a week after the rescue of little Narripi, at 2 a

They say that things go in threes and just a week after the rescue of little Narripi, at 2 a.m. during the early hours of 7th September 2005, a call came from David Njoroge, Head of the Burra De-Snaring Team, to say that another orphaned baby bull elephant had been brought to the Voi Stockades; that it was just a year old, and therefore milk dependent, and would need to be airlifted to Nairobi first thing in the morning. In the meantime, Mweiga was with the baby, comforting and calming it, and it had taken some milk and water.

This orphan originates from the Kwale district, approximately 60 kms. from Mombasa, part of the beleaguered Shimba Hills population, 400 of whom are in the process of being translocated to Tsavo Easts Northern Area. For the past week the calf had been spotted on community land, venturing out briefly to feed in the late afternoon and night and retreating for shelter in thickets during periods of increased human activity. Scars on his body indicate that he has long endured a very tough time at the hands of this very un-ele-friendly farming community from the Duruma tribe, well known in Kenya for eating everything and anything. However, credit must be given to the local Chief, who, as soon as he was informed about the orphan, alerted the KWS authorities.

The Capture Unit involved in the elephant translocation which was based close to the area, were alerted, but suffered a vehicle breakdown en route to the calf, so our Voi De-Snaring Unit was summonsed. Taking back feeder roads, and in the company of a Ranger familiar with the area, they travelled the 50 miles to a small village named Bofu where the calf had last been seen, arriving at dusk. However, luck was with them (and the orphan) for villagers had again spotted the orphan feeding behind a thicket and were able to direct the team to the place. Having evolved a plan of action, the rescue team managed to surround the calf who fled, panic-stricken towards the thicket, but the team were able to close in from all sides and wrestle him to the ground after a pursuit of about 40 metres. As the calf was being loaded onto the back of the De-Snaring teams Pickup, having been trussed up, curious and wildly excited villagers, who had been watching from a safe distance, swarmed around the vehicle, all wanting to touch the recumbent and terrified animal. This must have been the worst nightmare for a baby elephant who had grown up so fearful of human contact, so Mweigas calming influence, and the presence of the other elephants back at our Voi Elephant Stockades must have come as a real life-saver!

Nevertheless, the ordeal was not over yet, for the next morning again he had to be man-handled onto the back of the Pick-up to be taken to the Airstrip, and loaded onto the rescue tarpaulin for the plane journey back to Nairobi. By 12.30 p.m. he was at the Nairobi Nursery, where he was given a quick antibiotic injection before being set free in the Stockade previously occupied by Buchuma, Buchuma having been upgraded to Ndomots erstwhile quarters. Once free and inside his Stockade (situated next door to that of Rapsu), this extremely fearful little forest elephant buried his head deep inside the bunch of hanging foliage that was placed inside for him. So accustomed to hiding himself from human view in forest and thickets, quite obviously he felt more comfortable when he was unable to see the human nightmare that surrounded him After the noon mudbath, the other Nursery elephants were brought to meet him, so that he would know that he was not alone, and could observe their obvious attachment to their human Keepers. This made him visibly calmer and he took some water from a bucket. Throughout the night, Rapsu, his night neighbour, was there to impart a great deal of reassurance through the bars of the separating door, it being not so long ago that he was in the same state! The new arrival accepted some milk sucking it up with his trunk from a bucket, still not sufficiently trusting to accept it in a bottle held by a human. In the morning, when the other Nursery Elephants left their Night Stockades, all rushed to his compartment to greet him again, and once they had gone, little Narripi, who is kept nearby recovering from his trunk surgery, was happy to potter about just outside, providing a tiny, confident presence bonded to a human Keeper, and therefore sure to soothe a traumatized and extremely fearful one year old.

We have named the new arrival Kwali (pronounced Kwalee). Although emaciated, and obviously still traumatized, having been alone and without his mother or elephant family in extremely hostile circumstances for about 10 days, we are confident that Kwale will very soon transform into a loving, and gentle elephant baby, who will grow up loving his human family just as deeply as do all the others. Eventually he will join Yattas unit at Ithumba in Tsavos Northern Area, where the translocated members of his Shimba elephant population are also set to find a new home. Amongst those currently in the process of being translocated from the Shimba Hills National Reserve, could even be some of his relatives, with whom one day, he may well be re-united and the good news is that he faces a much more certain future in the 24,000 sq. Kms of Tsavo, arid as it is, than he would have in the 250 sq. kms.of lush Shimba Hills, which is bordered by an ele- hostile agricultural community.

UPDATE: On the 10.09.05 Kwali died in the Nursery, he succumbed to the dreaded pneumonia exacerbated by chronic diarrheoa.