The Rescue of Pardamat

Published on the 8th of October, 2023

Little Pardamat survived a long and frightening spell on his own, trying to fend for himself after his mother was killed. His saga began three weeks before his actual rescue. On 5th July 2023, the body of a lactating female elephant was found in Pardamat Conservation Area, in the Mara ecosystem.

She had been fatally speared — yet another victim of human-wildlife conflict that plagues this area. Given that she was still producing milk, she had clearly given birth fairly recently. However, her baby was nowhere to be found, leading everyone to fear the worst.

A week later, a yearling calf wandered into a Maasai boma. By the time rangers arrived to track him down, he had already joined a nearby herd. Hoping that the calf was not an orphan, but rather belonged to a female in the herd, the decision was made to leave him in place and closely monitor the situation.

By the end of the month, the calf’s circumstances had changed. On the morning of 28th July, Pardamat rangers received reports of another possible orphan. There were no other elephants in the area, and the young calf was determinedly trying to enter a Maasai boma. Arriving on the scene, they quickly realised it was the same baby elephant from two weeks prior.

Working quickly, the rangers restrained the calf and alerted the SWT/KWS Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit. At this point, it was abundantly clear that the calf was an orphan, and KWS greenlit a rescue.

When our Keepers landed at the airstrip, they were greeted by a most remarkable sight: The little elephant was tucked in the back of the Land Cruiser, his heart-shaped ears spread wide and his trunk extended in greeting. While he was certainly flustered, he was not overly stressed by the day’s proceedings.

The Keepers carefully bundled up their precious cargo, loaded him on the plane, and sat by him for the flight up to Nairobi. He started the day with bleak prospects, but by nighttime, he was safely tucked into a Nursery stable. We named the calf Pardamat, to forever link him to his homeland.

Many orphaned elephants arrive at the Nursery frightened and suspicious, particularly those who have witnessed the death of a parent. However, Pardamat never skipped a beat. He calmed down immediately, embraced his Keepers from the outset, and accepted his bottle with gratitude.

There is a tragic reason for this instant trust: Pardamat had spent three long weeks trying to survive on his own. He must have been desperately scared, lonely, and starving. When people showed him kindness and took care of him, his relief was palpable.

After such a long spell searching for care and friendship, Pardamat will never be alone again. He is happiest when shadowing his Keepers, suckling on their fingers as a soothing gesture. Ahmed has adopted him as ‘her’ special baby, which is an interesting development, as she never displayed any maternal instincts until Pardamat arrived. His cheerful, outgoing nature has made him fast friends with Mokogodo, Taroha, and Talek too. As Head Keeper Edwin remarks, ‘Pardamat is a buddy to all.’

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