At present the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has 20 orphaned elephants in the Nursery, four are babies – three females, Kamok, Ashaka and little Mbegu, and one male – Kauro. Raising infant elephants is always a fraught business with ups and downs that span many months. While the milk formula squeaks them through it is a poor substitute for mother’s milk so it is always a struggle to raise the infants, especially through the teething. Four huge molars push through the gums between 4 – 8 weeks old, and this causes extreme discomfort and a dramatic loss of condition, and very often proves life threatening.
Kamok came to us the day she was born, wobbly and unable to walk properly, and without having her mother’s colostrum even. She required a plasma transfusion on arrival in order to give her the antibodies required to fight infection and pull through. She was, we think, abandoned on Olpejita Ranch due to her compromised legs inhibating her keeping up with her herd. We are extremely proud to have raised her from the day she was born, from that frail pink newborn to now, a force to be reckoned with. Her tendons all corrected themselves in the fullness of time. A pampered baby from the start she is developing some very naughty traits, possessive of those she loves and prone to pushing and shoving in order to attract more attention.
Her friend Ashaka arrived a pocketed size baby, rescued from a drying mudwallow in Tsavo. We ran the risk of lung infection in the early days but happily she is growing apace and putting on condition. Ashaka is extremely attached to her Keepers and nothing makes her happier than nestling close to them and thumb sucking. She loves the company of the other babies, and indeed the comfort of the older orphans, but the Keepers are the most important in her young life at the moment.
Kauro although younger than these two females he is an extremely big calf. He too is a well victim who arrived having ingested huge amounts of water with a raging infection, and the tip of his trunk chewed by predators. Lucky for us Kauro is a robust calf coming from extremely strong genes and was able to respond well to treatment and pull through despite the odds being stacked against him.
Then came our little Mbegu, a tiny calf rescued from Northern Kenya and a victim of human wildlife conflict. Her life hung precariously in the balance as an enraged community bayed for her blood in retaliation for an unfortunate incident where a woman from the same community was killed by an elephant from Mbegu’s herd. The calf had a number of spear wounds and was extremely bruised having been battered by stones and rocks hurled by the community. A tiny elephant, with a beautiful little face, the picture of innocence - it was hard to imagine how anyone could inflict such damage on one so innocent. Mbegu stole hearts from the outset and fell in love with her Keepers. She loves to nestle close to them with her trunk pushed up their coats enveloping them with love. Mbegu’s wounds have healed, both physical and mental and these four are an extremely enchanting and playful little group, admired and loved by the older Nursery elephants, with Oltaiyoni taking on a new role of mini mother for our little foursome.