25th September 2010 and yet another Elephant Rescue, this time again from the Ziwani area of Tsavo West National Park, the place where orphan Murka was terribly mutilated by hostile Masai tribesmen and which also yielded orphan Makireti who fortunately escaped a similar fate. Apparently this latest orphan from that area has also been very fortunate to have been spotted by the Staff of the nearby Voyager Lodge before he came to halm. The fate of his mother is unconfirmed but he is a suspected poaching victim. The Staff radioed the KWS Rangers based at Ziwani, who got in touch with the Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit, who happened to be at the Buchuma area at the time, so they in turn, alerted the Keepers at the Voi Elephant Stockades that a rescue was needed. The rescue team drove the l00 kms. to the area and instantly set about searching for the lone orphan. It was some time before they managed to locate and capture the calf, who was a young bull, big for his age, for his tusks had not yet broken through, so he is probably just short of 2 years of age.
We decided to phone Head Keeper Benjamin at the Ithumba Elephant Rehabilitation Unit in Northern Tsavo East, and who had just received orphan Ithumbah the day before when she was found bogged in the mud at the Ithumba Dam. We asked Benjamin if he thought he could cope with another sizeable orphaned elephant who could join Ithumbah, and his response was “Of course, and How Lucky are We!” Our Nairobi Keepers flew in the caravan aircraft from Nairobi to Ziwani and accompanied the calf for the 45 minute flight from Ziwani to Ithumba. Once they landed at Ithumba the calf was unloaded at the airfield and driven in the Trust's Tractor to the Ithumba Stockades, where he joined little “Ithumbah” in a makeshift stockade erected inside the electric fence stockade so that the Keepers could first tame him down. The other Keeper Dependent Youngsters under the Matriarchship of Loijuk were extremely interested in the new arrival. As usual, the calf was treated to a joyous welcome, Loijuk delighted to have another baby within her care, as are all the Ex Orphans, who keep in regular touch with the Youngsters.
The young bull has been named “Salaita”, the name of a small hill in the area where the calf was found, and where a very famous First World War battle took place between the Germans and the British, which yielded two Victoria Crosses for outstanding bravery. The first few weeks were critical for the two latest arrivals at the Ithumba Stockades, but Benjamin had all at his disposal in order to cope professionally and proficiently and he managed to pull this off, and was indeed, worthy of a medal himself!
After about a week in the stockades, where careful supervision, along with medical treatment could take place along side the taming down, until the two new comers were totally confident to come to their Keepers to take their milk, they were then let out to join the others and their daily routine. Within just one short day Salaita and Ithumbah had learnt the ropes, communicated to by the others and now, a few weeks on, it is hard to spot the newcomers they are so completely integrated into our Ithumba milk dependent orphan herd.