Pasaka and Sieku, two tragic little orphans who lost their fight for life

Yet another rescue alert on Good Friday l0th April 2009

Yet another rescue alert on Good Friday l0th April 2009.   The Manager of Satao Camp in Tsavo East National Park heard a great deal of elephant screaming at a nearby waterhole during the night of the 9th, and at first light ventured out to investigate.   He came across a female calf, estimated to be about 3 months old, who was totally exhausted and lying flat on the ground, with no sign of other elephants, or its mother, nearby.   The calf was weak and terribly thin, obviously having been without its mother for some time, and had also evidently suffered rejection from other elephants that came to drink the previous night, hence all the bellowing.   Evidence of this was in the multiple tusk abrasions she had on her back.   In this extremely challenging dry year, few wild herds other than the baby’s immediate family are willing to be encumbered by a milk dependent orphaned calf that they would be unable to suckle and which would jeopardize the survival of their own immediate family.   It is thought that this orphan is a victim of poaching which has escalated sharply throughout the country in recent months.   For the first time ever the famous Amboseli elephants are also falling to poachers.

The Manager managed to capture the weakened calf, and loaded her onto the Camp lorry and drove the orphan to our Voi rehabilitation Unit where the Voi Elephant Keepers were able to offer her rehydation and milk whilst waiting for the arrival of the rescue plane.  

The rescue plane left Nairobi at l p.m. and the calf was back in the Nursery by 5 p.m. on Easter Friday, l0th April 2009, having been named Pasaka by the Keepers – Pasaka being the Swahili word for Easter.   Little Pasaka was very young, her first molars not yet through the gum and she was housed in the partition of Tassia”s stockade to be calmed down overnight before occupying one of the spare stables. From the start her digestive system was in a mess, black watery stools heralding problems, and which failed to respond to the usual  treatments.   Soon she was so weak that an intravenous drip was inserted into an ear vein, but sadly she passed away four days later, during the early hours of the 14th.  

Rescue and Death of Orphan Sieku

 Just a day after the arrival of orphan Pasaka from Satao Camp in Tsavo East National Park, we were alertedabout the presence of another orphaned elephant, this time from the Kipsing area om Samburu tribal land, anarea that has recorded an outbreak of Cholera in recent months.   (Hence all involved in the rescue of this calfhad to undergo a precautionary course of Doxycyline upon their return and have their garments sterilized).

This orphan was a baby bull that was discovered bogged in the deep mud of a drying and suspected cholera infested watering place near the Leseku lugga at a place called Sampalal that had previously been heavily utilized by starving and diseased domestic livestock of the area during this extreme drought year.   The body of a lactating cow who died of gunshot wounds was found nearby, so the calf was a victim of the rampant poaching that has marked this year in the Northern regions of Kenya.  It is believed that the cow was actually shot near a place called Dorot and subsequently died of her wounds, Scouts from the Northern Rangelands Trust having followed her blood trail.  


The presence of the bogged baby was reported to Julia Francombe of Ol Malo Ranch who, along with her father, supervised the extraction of the calf from the fouled mud and transported it to the nearby Airstrip on Ol Malo Ranch to await the arrival of the Rescue Plane.   From there the baby was flown to Nairobi, and subsequently named “Sieku”.  

From the start, this baby was a very reluctant feeder, taking an insufficient quantity of milk to sustain life, and rapidly became weaker, obviously ailing.  He collapsed and died very suddenly on the 16th April whilst out in the bush with the others.  This was just two days after we had lost little “Pasaka” – yet another very sad week at the Nairobi Nursery.