Taveta's rescue

Another quiet Sunday morning, the l0th August 2008, and yet another dreaded Sunday phone call alerting us that another Elephant Rescue was on the Cards

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Another quiet Sunday morning, the l0th August 2008, and yet another dreaded Sunday phone call alerting us that another Elephant Rescue was on the Cards.   This time the call came from the Trust's Ziwani anti-poaching De-Snaring Team, which patrols the Southern end of Tsavo West National Park, and who had reported coming across the body of a cow elephant about a week ago, a victim of poisoned arrow poaching.   Now a lone 8-9  month old calf, which had been spotted by tourists to the nearby Taita Hills Private Sanctuary the previous day had already been captured and had spent the night at the Sanctuary's Sarova Lodge.   It was fortuitous indeed that the Wildlife Officer at the Sanctuary happens to be an ex KWS employee who had long been conversant with the Trust's Orphaned Elephant Project.   He had already informed the KWS Tsavo East authorities and Joseph Sauni and the Voi Keepers were already on their way to the Sanctuary with milk formula and rehydrants for the calf which was a baby bull estimated to be about 8 - 9 months old, and who had been without milk for about a week.   In all likelihood this was the calf of the dead mother found by the Ziwani De-Snaring team.

August coincides with the height of the wildebeest migratory spectacle in the Masai Mara, so all Charter Companies that operate out of Wilson Airport are kept busy.   The  first available plane could only leave Nairobi at 11.30 a.m.  landing at Taita Hills Sanctuary at about 1 p.m.    Aboard were three Nursery Elephant Keepers, including Edwin Lusichi, who was able to administer the first of the usual course of injectible antibiotic.  The calf was then surrounded by the Keepers who steered it to the waiting plane before being laid down on the rescue tarpaulin with bound legs and loaded onto the plane for the flight back.   The Trust's Pickup truck was waiting at Wilson Airport to take the calf back to the Nursery.   He arrived there in the late afternoon and was carried recumbent into a stable that had been prepared for him next door to that occupied by Shimba and Dida.  Daphne and Angela were in Tsavo at the time, keeping in close touch with Lina Sideras and the Keepers by mobile phone and decided that the new arrival be named "Taveta", the name of the border town on the Kenya Tanzanian border which is not far from both the Taita Hills Sanctuary and the Southern part of Tsavo West National Park.
Apart from being malnourished and exhausted, "Taveta" was in reasonable condition and accepted milk from the bottle hungrily and instantly.   He slept well during the course of the night instantly bonding with the Keepers who were there to feed him on demand.   By the next morning he was sufficiently quiet to be allowed out to join the other nine Nursery orphans and accompany them out into the bush.   Immediately they crowded around him, greeting him warmly as he went from one to the other, overjoyed to find himself in elephant company again, but also probably desperate and saddened not to be able to recognize a familiar face.   He is an extremely trusting and very friendly little elephant, who is happy even to greet the mudbath visitors with touching trust and no aggression.  The addition of this very gentle and special little Tsavo elephant to the Nursery contingent brings the number to 10, yet another tiny male companion for Shimba, Siria and baby Kimana, and very lucky to have been found in time, since at the time of his capture a pride of lions was not far off, who would most certainly have made a meal of him during the night had he not been found.   2008 is proving to be yet another very busy year for the Trust, with poaching already showing signs of escalating as a result of the recent CITES decision to allow China to become a bidder for the legal stockpile of Southern African ivory.