Galdessa Camp is a tented Lodge on the South Bank of the Galana River, popular with Italian tourists from the North Coastal resort of Malindi. During a game drive after lunch on the 21st September 2009, a lady (who happens to be a foster-parent of our orphan Shimba), spotted a tiny elephant calf as they crossed a nearby doum palm fringed dry sand lugga having just left the confines of the camp. The baby elephant was alone, with no other elephants in sight and being just days old, was too young to know fear. The plight of the calf was reported to the Camp staff. Later Rick and Nicole Goodfellow who were guests at Galdessa went in search of the orphaned baby and once located he seemed desperate for company, and ran up to the car, since in a perfect world a newborn elephant should never be alone, but surrounded by its elephant mother and a very loving elephant family, all of whom would fondle, protect, and lavish love on any new family arrival. He was rescued and immediately taken to Galdessa Camp in the back of the game drive vehicle. The Kenya Wildlife Authorities and the David Sheldrick Trust were alerted that an elephant rescue was on the cards to save this tiny orphan.
The little elephant was desperately thirsty, gulping down the water by mouth as two men held the bucket, too new to know how to use its trunk. The Rescuers well meaningly suggested feeding it milk, but being already a foster-parent conversant with the Sheldrick Trust’s website, Camilla Caccia advised them against this, knowing that cows’ milk kills elephant babies. He remained in the back of the car for the next 1 ½ hours awaiting the arrival of KWS and the Sheldrick Trust Keepers from the Voi Stockades, who took possession of the little elephant and drove him back to the Voi Stockades for the night where it was given elephant formula milk.
He was a baby bull calf, estimated to be between 2 and 3 weeks of age, since the hind-side of the ears was turning from petal pink to dark and the soles of the feet had signs of wear. He was flown to the Nairobi Nursery the following morning (22nd September 2009), there to join another 27 orphaned baby elephants, 4 of whom were newborns just like himself. We named him Kavu (the Swahili word for Dry), since he was born during what is arguably the severest drought in the history of the country, and certainly the worst in living memory, its deleterious affects exacerbated by the illegal intrusion of hordes of domestic livestock into all the Protected Areas, coupled by an upsurge in elephant poaching triggered by a rise in the price of ivory, now fetching over one thousand US dollars per kilo in China and the Far East.
Kavu was with us a month in the nursery and having overcome bouts of diarrhea seemed to be gradually making steady progress. Just last week he began the teething process which always presents us with problems, and he seemed slightly more subdued than normal but remained with a healthy appetite finishing all his feeds. We assumed it was as a result of teething but had taken the precaution of putting him on an antibiotic course just in case. So it came as a huge shock when Kavu unexpectedly passed away in the afternoon of the 27th of October, just over a month after he arrived into our care, enough time for everyone to have grown incredibly fond of this brave little elephant. It was confirmed Kavu died of the dreaded pneumonia due to his weakened condition, and a suppressed immune system,