This brave little girl is an orphan in the most tragic sense. She was found standing guard over her mother’s body, helpless yet fiercely protective. At the tender age of 2 and a half years, she was old enough to be sentient about the situation, but far too young to survive on her own in a drought year.
Her story began on the afternoon of 26th September, when our SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit was contacted about a dead female elephant in Manyani, Tsavo West National Park. She had left behind an orphaned calf, who was standing vigil by her side.
With heavy hearts, they captured the calf to transport her to the nearby Manyani airstrip, where the rescue plane would meet them. Although it was too late to save her mother, we could provide this calf with the family and the future she deserved. Once the plane landed, the two teams swapped their precious cargo. The orphaned baby was passed into the capable hands of our Nairobi Keepers, three of whom had travelled down for the rescue. Upon her arrival at the Nursery, it was evident that this young calf was very traumatised by events and unsettled.
We often find that orphans who are found in the presence of their deceased mothers suffer from severe emotional distress. This calf was no different. She arrived at the Nursery very furtive and distrustful. It is important to exercise caution when allowing new rescues to join the rest of the herd, lest they take off into the forest. After three weeks of little progress, however, we decided to take a leap of faith and let her out with the others.
It was the best thing we could have done with her. Our little lion transformed into a lamb. She loves being amidst the herd and thrives off their presence. Although she is still quite shy, she has a newfound lightness of spirit.
We named her Ahmed — which, given her gender, might seem quite unconventional. In the initial turmoil, as the team grappled with her rescue and her mother’s post-mortem, the orphan was misidentified as a male. We thought we were christening a little boy — but as it turns out, that was not the case! However, she really responds to Ahmed, so the name stuck.
After conducting a post-mortem, Dr Limo concluded that Ahmed’s mother died of severe peritonitis, which was likely the result of a penetrating tusk wound. In a tragic twist to the story, the post-mortem also revealed that she was heavily pregnant. She had carried her unborn baby nearly full-term, but neither survived this terrible freak accident.