Walking into the Generator Room of a tented Lodge on the Galana River, and cowering there until rescued, must surely be one of the most bizarre acts of desperation for an eight week old baby elephant, but this is exactly what happened during the evening of the 21st November . The Galdessa Tented Lodge is situated on the Galana river upstream from Lugards Falls and is an up-market Tourist Destination within Tsavo East National Park. The baby elephant was all alone, no sign of any other elephants in the vicinity, so the fate of his mother and elephant family, so far, remains a mystery. However, his arrival coincided with severe flooding in the Galana River caused by heavy upcountry rains, so we believe that he had been washed down as his family were attempting to cross, since his face shows signs of abrasions and swelling possibly caused by being tossed around the rapids upstream along this section of the river. The Lodge Staff became aware of his presence when it was time to crank up the generator in the evening. They alerted a nearby KWS patrol, who came to collect him and drive him to our Voi Elephant Stockades, where the Keepers were awaiting his arrival, having been alerted that a new orphan was on the way. He arrived at the Stockades at l0 p.m. at night, clearly too shocked and exhausted to demonstrate fear or aggression, but eager to take some milk. The next morning his was flown to our Nairobi Nursery, arriving at noon on 22nd November 2006.
We named the newcomer “Galdessa”, the name of the Camp from whence he was rescued. He was unusually trusting and calm for an orphan at his age on arrival, but other than severe bruising to his face, he appears to be in reasonable physical shape, but clearly the circumstances surrounding his being orphaned are dramatic because this little calf arrived with us absolutely exhausted. In the beginning he preferred to sleep during the hours of daylight when, in between resting, he joined the infant trio at the Nursery, namely spirited little Lesanju, the obvious leader and decision maker of what to do, where to go and when, tiny Lempaute who follows her lead and is glued to her side at all times, and lethargic baby Shimba, who plods along behind. Galdessa while he is settling in is obviously grief stricken showing all the signs of a baby who is clearly still pining for his lost elephant family. The tiny Nursery infants are kept apart from the older elephants during the heat of the day, playing with their Keepers under shade closer to home in order to avoid sun damage to their petal soft ears, added to which, when with the others, they tend not to feed as well, constantly suckling the older orphans.
Little Galdessa has, of course, been embraced by all three tiny babies, and their happiness and playfulness will help his recovery. The older Nursery elephants will also shower him with concern, compassion and care, and he can count on the 24 hour attention of his Keepers, who, like their elephant counterparts, must do the same, and already he and Shimba, the two males of the baby unit, have a strong bond.