During the afternoon of 28th March 2006, our Mtito De-Snaring Team, on their way to book two poachers arrested in the Tsavo Triangle, came across a lone young bull elephant calf crossing the road about 4 kms. from the Triangle Park Mtito Entrance Gate.
He looked thin, and was obviously an orphan of about 6 – 8 months old. Having completed their business in the nearby town of Mtito Andei, they returned to capture the orphan, who was still in the same place and who did not put up much of a struggle. His legs were bound, and he was transported to the nearest airfield at the Kamboyo Park Headquarters of Tsavo West National Park, where he was secured to a tree in a standing position, to await the arrival of the rescue plane on its way from Nairobi and cooled down with wet mud. It is believed that this orphan could be a victim of “problem animal control” having been separated from his mother when a herd of elephants was recently chased out of a nearby Wakama settlement known as Mangaleti.
When the rescue plane arrived, with our Keepers aboard plus all the paraphernalia needed to load an elephant into the plane, he was given both a mild sedative injection as well as an antibiotic. There were signs of fluid coming from the mouth and trunk, so upon arrival in the Nursery at about 6.30 p.m., he was also given the homeopathic pillules and a booster antibiotic jab to try and protect him against possible pneumonia, which is a killer of weakened starvation victims whose immune system is depressed. Once unbound, being weak, he was only mildly aggressive towards the Keepers who were with him during the night, but immediately homed in on orphan Kora, in the next door Stockade, extending his trunk and intertwining it with that of Kora, who is quite used to greeting newcomers in the neighbouring Stockade, known as “the taming Stockade”. Throughout the night he interacted with Kora, but rejected his milk. However, in the morning when all the other elephants were brought around to greet him, he accepted milk from a bottle held by a Keeper, and this is always a hopeful sign.
He has been named “Kamboyo” to identify his origin and we estimate his age to be about 8 months. He is emaciated with prominent cheek bones, having obviously been deprived of milk for about 3 weeks, and arrived with a heavy infestation of ticks, (always a sign of poor condition) as well as a swollen umbilicus (probably an umbilical hernia) and the inevitable worm load. However, the fact that he is taking milk is encouraging, and once a little stronger, we will be able to deal with the stomach parasites.
He calmed down very quickly and was able to join the other nursery orphans in the forest at 3.00pm the day after his rescue. While out in the bush with the orphans and Keepers it was obvious to see that he was enjoying being amongst his own kind again, staying close to the others at all times.