A Surprise Reunion in the Drought

Published on the 28th of October, 2022

Across Kenya, we are dealing with daily field emergencies related to the drought. Every operation comes with its fair share of surprises — but this particular plot twist was wholly unexpected.

On the afternoon of 19th October, we received reports of a collapsed baby elephant who had been abandoned by her herd. The SWT/KWS Mount Kenya Vet Unit drove to the scene, where they found the calf lying unresponsive in the baking sun.

The team immediately put the calf on drips and propped up a board to shade her. Now, they had to plan their next move. Given the late hour, the window to mount a rescue had closed. Rangers were preparing for a long night of monitoring her.

All of the sudden, an adult elephant exploded out of the undergrowth. Miraculously, the calf’s mother had come back to retrieve her baby — and she was none too happy to find her surrounded by people! While the team took cover, she rushed to her calf’s side. A sub-adult, presumably the calf’s older sibling, also converged on the scene.

Her timing was perfect: The glucose and rehydration drips had worked their magic, and the calf was beginning to stir. With some gentle prodding from her mother, she rose to her feet. Together, the little family walked back off into the wilderness.

Time and again, we have seen how drips miraculously revive a drought-stricken elephant. Usually, their mothers are not present to witness the miracle, having made the heartbreaking decision to abandon their collapsed calf. But this time, something made the mother stay behind. KWS vet Dr Mijele is optimistic that the drips gave the calf the kickstart she needed. She was not in terrible condition and clearly had reserves of strength.

The calf got right to her feet and followed her mother with purpose. Should her situation change, our teams will be ready to help — but for now, this little family got the second chance they so direly needed.

Over the years, we have facilitated many miraculous reunions between mum and baby. Some happy reunions from this year alone include:

Your support makes these missions possible. Because of you, we are able to help elephants in their hour of need, evening the scales as they navigate this challenging drought.

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