The Rescue of Mushuru

Published on the 14th of July, 2023

Mushuru was a mid-February miracle. Hers was a complicated rescue, but the stars aligned and we were able to bring this little girl to safety. Many partners came together to save her.

It began on 13th February 2023, when the local Maasai community observed a lone calf in the Amboseli ecosystem. She was far too young to be without her mother. Worryingly, she had a spear injury, which indicated that she had been embroiled in human-wildlife conflict. It was unclear whether this occurred after she was orphaned or was the cause of it.

The community reported her presence to Big Life, who raised the alarm. The hour was late, so KWS requested that the SWT/KWS Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit assess the situation the next day.

However, Mushuru had other ideas. She completely disappeared overnight, prompting an extensive search the following morning. Fortunately, Big Life scouts eventually managed to track her down, finding her a significant distance from where she had originally been reported. They remained by her side until our SWT/KWS Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit arrived. When treating the calf’s spear wound, Dr Kariuki determined that she was an orphan and a rescue was necessary.

At about two years old, Mushuru was a young orphan. All the same, a two-year-old elephant still presents a hefty challenge — particularly when mounting a rescue in a remote area. Dr Kariuki darted her and she was loaded onto the Amboseli Vet vehicle, which drove her to Mbirikani airstrip, where a chartered plane was waiting. A team of Keepers were onboard to shepherd her to her new home, our Nairobi Nursery.

We named her Mushuru. Mashuru, with a slightly different spelling, is an area in the Amboseli ecosystem. This name will forever connect her with her homeland.

Despite her ordeal, Mushuru didn’t struggle once she arrived at the Nursery. Fortunately, the spear injury was minor and healed quickly. Within weeks, any jutting bones or sunken cheeks had filled out. Trust took a bit longer to build, which is understandable given all that Mushuru went through. While she remains very shy, she has started forging friendships and joining herd activities. Loldaiga is one of her particular friends.

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