From the shores of Lake Jipe to our Nairobi Nursery, little Taroha has come a long way since his rescue. We have been waiting quite some time to share this special elephant’s tale. His story began on 2nd March 2023, when KWS rangers spotted a lone, infant elephant calf.
His rescue story began on 2nd March 2023, when KWS rangers spotted a lone, infant elephant calf. At approximately one year old, the calf was still milk-dependent and far too young to be without his mother. They monitored him for the day, but no elephants passed through the area. It became clear that he was an orphan.
The only available vehicle in the area at the time was the Trust’s JCB backhoe, which was stationed nearby on a building site. The little calf was hoisted into the vehicle’s big bucket and then driven to the KWS ranger base at Lake Jipe in Tsavo West National Park.
Meanwhile, we were hastily organising a rescue. The hour was late, so we decided to keep the orphan at our nearby Voi stockades for the night. The Voi Keepers fetched him from the ranger base and drove him to his temporary hotel. To forever connect the calf to his origins, we named him Taroha, after an area near Lake Jipe.
Taroha spent a peaceful first night in Voi, cosy in one of the stables reserved for this very situation. The other Voi orphans, who are much older, were curious about their guest. Mbegu, Tamiyoi, Tagwa, and the other mini matriarchs were particularly intrigued by the baby who had landed in their midst.
Just as their curiosity was piqued, it was time for Taroha to continue his journey to Nairobi, the place he will call home for the next several years. A team of Nursery Keepers piled out of the SWT Caravan and tucked their precious cargo onboard the plane. One short flight later, Taroha had arrived at his final destination.
At first, we were cautiously optimistic about Taroha. But then, he took a worrying dip. While he acclimatised to his new home, he couldn’t stomach any supplementary food, and relied solely on milk and greens to sustain him. His condition crashed and his ears curled in, which is always a telltale sign of poor health. Still we forged on, taking the victories and setbacks in equal measure.
It was during this time that a very special friendship was cemented in Taroha’s life. Because of his fragile state, he was partnered up with tiny Mokogodo, the youngest orphan elephant at the Nursery. Clad in their matching blue blankets, they became an unlikely couple and an inseparable pair. Where Mokogodo is feisty and definitive, Taroha is calm and easy-going. She is the ringleader, he is happy to be led. We have no doubt that this friendship helped pull Taroha through his darkest times.
Taroha also has the distinction of being Raha the rhino’s only neighbour. While they follow their own beat during the day, they return to their adjacent stables at night. Taroha happily munches on greens and lucerne (something he can finally stomach) while Raha enjoys her own feast next door. This little rhino is yet another special, improbable pairing in Taroha’s life.
We were reluctant to add Taroha to the adoption program, as we helped him navigate his health struggles. At last, his cheeks have grown rounder, and his bony figure has been replaced by an increasingly plump physique. But one thing remains the same: As ever, little Mokogodo, his very best friend, remains firmly by his side.