The beginning of Talek’s story remains a mystery, but we know that this resourceful, brave little girl did her very best to fend for herself in the vast Mara landscape before being rescued.
In late June, a tour driver reported a possible orphaned elephant to the Senior Warden of the Mara. At about seven months old, she was too young to be on her own. Clearly seeking a ‘family’ to latch onto, she had started following tour vehicles near Balloon Crossing in the Mara.
When the report came in, our SWT/KWS Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit were attending to a speared hippo. As soon as that treatment was complete, they turned their attention to the possible orphan. However, she had evaporated into the wilderness. Everyone hoped that she had reunited with her herd.
Sadly, that was not to be. A few days later, on 26th June 2023, the calf reappeared in the Talek area of the Mara — this time trailing a bull elephant for protection. The SWT/KWS Mara Vet Unit observed them all morning, following them through plains and luggas. While the bull could give her companionship and protection, he could not give her the milk a calf of her age requires. Now absolutely certain that she was an orphan, the County Warden and KWS greenlit a rescue.
The SWT/KWS Mara Vet Unit separated the calf from the bull, who did not seem overly concerned about losing his unconventional shadow. Then, they drove her to Keekorok Airstrip, where the orphan’s rescue ride was waiting to fly her to Nairobi. We named her Talek, to forever connect her to her homeland.
Talek settled right into Nursery life. After a few days of regular milk feeds, her cheeks filled out and her belly returned to its round splendour. She quickly became a firm favourite among all the older girls. However, Talek’s Keepers remark that she is an ‘independent girl’, with little interest in being cosseted and coddled. She and her nighttime neighbour, Pardamat (who was also rescued from the Mara, just a few weeks after Talek), have a classic little sibling relationship. One minute, they are best friends, the next, they are squabbling over the slightest infraction!
We are very grateful for Talek’s ‘guardian bull’, who looked after her with such gentleness. Now, her Keepers have taken over, giving her round-the-clock care and nurturing for as long as she needs it. Talek is absolutely hooked on her new ‘parents’; if the Keepers are standing in a group, she plants herself right in their midst. This once-lonely little girl will spend the rest of her life surrounded by love.