The rescue of Loldaiga

Published on the 4th of April, 2023

Fresh into the new year, yet another drought victim entered our midst. On 15th January 2023, we received a call about an orphaned elephant in the Lolldaiga Hills, north of Mount Kenya. This area had been badly affected by the drought. While scant rains in December offered some measure of relief, the landscape continued to suffer.

This calf had been observed on his own for about a week and was clearly struggling. At two years old, he was on the larger side, but still deeply vulnerable. It is possible that he lost his mother, either to the drought or interlinked human-wildlife conflict, or he became too weak to keep up with his herd and was abandoned. This is a story we have seen played out too many times over the past year, as the youngest elephants are often the first to fall during difficult times.

As we mobilised a rescue from Nairobi, the SWT/KWS Mount Kenya Mobile Vet Unit reported to the scene. It was a challenging operation. The calf was located a 30-minute drive from the nearest airstrip, and his size made mobility difficult. Given his compromised state, we didn’t want him to be recumbent for too long.

In the end, everything unfolded like clockwork. The ground team managed to secure the calf and arrived at the airstrip just as the plane was landing. Without wasting a moment, our Keepers disembarked and secured the young chap onboard. We named him Loldaiga, to forever connect him to his homeland.

By late afternoon, Loldaiga had arrived in Nairobi. We had to tread carefully, giving him ample time to recover and become used to his new home. For several weeks, he recuperated inside the peace and security of his stockade. His presence garnered a lot of interest among the Nursery herd, who couldn’t wait to meet their new friend.

On 6th February, Loldaiga was finally ready to join the Nursery herd out in the forest. At noon, the Keepers shepherded the orphans up to his stockade, where they welcomed the young bull and escorted him out. For a long time, the others were too excited to browse, instead clustering around the newcomer. Loldaiga initially accepted their mothering, but then found it too overwhelming and ran off in search of a Keeper — with Kinyei, Kindani and Olorien in hot pursuit! In the weeks since, he has really settled into the routine and found his place among the Nursery herd.

Loldaiga’s Keepers report that he is a gentle, shy boy who is happiest when quietly sandwiched among fellow peace-loving orphans. At the moment, he is closest with Weka, Muwingu, Mageno, and Kitich. Muwingu, who is his nighttime neighbour, and Weka have become particularly good friends. Given his lonely beginnings, it is special to see this young bull so surrounded by love.

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Loldaiga, and all the orphans reliant on us, need specialist care 24 hours a day. You can help provide for their needs, while becoming a part of their future, through an adoption.
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