The pastoral Orma people live on the Eastern boundary of Tsavo National Park and one day a herdsman came upon a tiny newborn baby kudu crouched in the undergrowth in the early hours of the morning while taking his herd out to graze. When he found the calf still there in the evening he assumed that it was without a mother, and therefore in need of care, he carefully carried it back home, where he nurtured it for an entire month and a half, feeding it on the fresh milk from his cows out of a baby’s bottle. The little kudu thrived, and he grew to love it dearly, naming it Chuna which, in his dialect means “Most Beautiful Beloved”. Since, in Kenya, it is illegal to be in possession of a live wild animal without the relevant permit, he thought to notify the authorities about the kudu baby, and the calf was confiscated from him by KWS and brought to our Voi Stockades to raise with our baby zebra called Serena within the boundaries of Tsavo East National Park. Given the devotion already shown by Mohammed towards little Chuna we contacted the Orma tribesman to ensure that the calf could have the continuity of the Keeper she had always known and Mohammed now works for the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust as Keeper to Chuna and assists with caring for Serena too.
In the fullness of time the kudu will grow into a beautiful spiral horned, gun-metal grey adult with white side stripes and join its wild kin to lead a quality of life in wild terms within the Park. When this takes place, Chuna’s Carer will become one of our permanent Elephant Keepers, and besides the fondness that he currently holds for this very lucky little fawn, will come to know and love elephants as well. Our two latest orphans make a charming addition to the 23 growing elephants currently in our care in Voi.