At first glance, Elerai painted a deceiving picture: He had large, robust tusks, which initially made one mistake him for a much older elephant. A closer look, however, revealed that he was actually very young and very vulnerable. If he was to make it through the drought, he needed help.
Elerai was first spotted on 30th September, forlornly wandering the swamplands on the fringes of Lake Amboseli. The Amboseli ecosystem was hit hard by the drought, and many elephants — particularly the very old and the very young — struggled to survive amidst the challenging conditions. He was clearly yet another victim.
The SWT/KWS Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit reported to the scene and concluded that the calf was indeed an orphan. KWS greenlit a rescue, and we quickly assembled a team to bring the calf to our Nairobi Nursery. The entire operation went smoothly. The calf was very weak, so he didn’t put up much resistance as he was captured on the ground and handed over to the Keepers, who accompanied him on the flight to Nairobi.
We named the calf Elerai, after an area in Amboseli. Everyone was struck by how small he really was, despite his impressive tusks. He arrived at the Nursery in a dire state, riddled with parasites. Worryingly, he developed terrible edema. His legs swelled enormously and the skin split, likely as a result of the parasites and his prolonged time in the swamps. The Keepers tried their best to massage him, but at that point, he was wild as can be. Elerai didn’t help himself by refusing to lie down, but he was likely driven by the reasonable fear that he wouldn’t be able to get back to his feet.
Elerai spent a long time recovering in his stockade. Little by little, everything began to right itself. The swelling in his legs died down and the cracked skin healed. With the parasites finally expelled from his body, his cheeks began to fill out and he started to put on weight.
Elerai is a very outgoing and sociable elephant, who enjoys the company of Mukutan and Sileita. We are thrilled that, against the odds, this brave young bull has been given a second chance.