12TH May 2004, in the late afternoon, we received a message from Save the Elephants in Samburu National Reserve alerting us to the fact that what was obviously an orphaned elephant calf had been seen trailing the wild herds, and suffering continuous rejection by them.
Those of us back at base likewise spent a restless night, wondering how things were going in far-away Samburu National Reserve. First thing in the morning, the news came that they had the calf, and the plane would be arriving at Wilson Airport in Nairobi at 8.15 a.m. Unsure about the actual size of the new arrival, both a Stockade, and a Stable were prepared, and at 9 a.m. the vehicle carrying the sedated calf drew in. Lying on the rescue tarpaulin she was already coming round, and we decided to put her in Tomboi’s night stable, which is next door to that of Wendi. Traumatised and still "wild", it took two Keepers all their time to try and restrain the baby, who was trying to climb out and break out, but she took more milk and water, and gradually Keeper Julius and Stephen worked their magic. Having consulted our Samburu Keepers, it was decided that the calf be called "Naserian", which is a girl child’s name in Samburu, meaning "the lucky one". After the noon mudbath, the other Nursery elephants came to meet her, extending their trunks through the separating partition of the next door stable. She was overjoyed to see them, and they her. Selengai and Wendi were especially attentive, and following this introduction, little Naserian, who is slightly taller than Sunyei, visibly settled down, and having been given homeopathic remedies for trauma and stress, slept fitfully. Amazingly, by nightfall this totally wild elephant was sucking the fingers of her Keepers, taking milk eagerly from a bottle, and even enjoying the company of her human Attendants, much to the amazement of the film crew. That night she slept soundly, with her little trunk reaching through the separation to touch Wendi next door. And, first thing in the morning, she was out and about with the others, all documented for "Elephant Diaries" – truly the same mini miracle we have witnessed many times before with orphans who have had the input of other elephants! Any bystander would not have been able to tell which elephant was the newcomer who had arrived just a day ago. Napasha was particularly caring of her, comforting her, touching her gently, and making sure that she felt loved. Ndomot didn’t want to share Wendi with the stranger, and tried to block Wendi whenever she tried to get near the new calf. Sunyei took over, and little Naserian was taken into the mini Nursery herd, taking the cue from them, even hurrying to the noon mudbath, where she enjoyed a mudwallow and then joined the others in greeting the visitors.
Tomboi, is the one who had to give up his stable to the newcomer, and join Taita and Olmalo in one of the Rhino Stockade that they share. To begin with, he thought this was a novel idea, but the next night he complained loudly, but will soon settle in.
The arrival of little Naserian brings the number of baby elephants in our Nursery to l0, which makes for a pretty full house. The most we have ever been called upon to accommodate at any one time has been 12!
Naserian promises to be a special elephant and we are glad to be able to offer her another chance of life, and the special care that all 55 of our rescued elephant orphans enjoy, given the same tender loving care by their Keepers that their own elephant family would have given them, until such time as they are comfortable with the wild herds and ready to take their place where they rightly belong, back with their own kind, in a large Protected Park where they will enjoy freedom and the quality of life that is their birthright.