On the 17th of March late afternoon Angela received a call from KWS Veterinary Officer Dr. Limo who heads the DSWT funded Mara Mobile Veterinary Team about an orphaned elephant reported near the Purungat area, near the Mara Bridge within the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Mara Conservancy wardens and rangers had been monitoring a young calf for some time and it had become clear to them that this abandoned baby was orphaned, and had already been ravaged by hyenas. The fate of his herd and mother and the reason for his abandonment remains a mystery.
Wasting no time, and aware of the late hour Angela coordinated the rescue mindful that another night alone would leave him vulnerable to the Mara’s many predators and could prove fatal. The DSWT Team was hastily scrambled from Nairobi, and in the meantime the DSWT/KWS Mobile Mara Veterinary Unit and Dr. Limo headed to where the calf was last reported as being seen. Given the late hour and no elephants in the area the DSWT/KWS Mara Veterinary Team together with the Mara Conservancy rangers captured the approximately fourteen month old calf, which proved no mean task, because despite being injured he remained very strong. After a Herculean effort the team were able to restrain him and load him into the back of the Veterinary Unit land cruiser and drove him to the Serena airstrip to wait for the DSWT Keepers and rescue aircraft to land.
With the light beginning to fade, it was paramount that the elephant be ready to depart the moment the plane touched down. They touched down at 6.30pm and it was all hands on deck to safely move the calf from the Vet Vehicle to the plane before sunset, which would have forced everyone to overnight. This wasn’t an option with a now captured calf and everyone on the ground worked hard so that by 7.00pm, with the calf secured safely in the back of the aircraft, the plane took off. After a 55 minute flight, the plane arrived in darkness back at Wilson airport with the young elephant having been calm throughout the flight. On close inspection his rear had been chewed up, with his genitals damaged and his tail bitten clean off. His rescue had come in the nick of time.
By 8.30pm this beautiful little elephant was in the sanctuary of the Nursery, the 33 existing orphans calling out to welcome her. Despite it being dark we set about cleaning and treating his terrible wounds and were able to ascertain how bad the damage was, and while his genital area was severely bitten with much of the flesh missing, it had not affected his ability to urinate (please see next update). his tail had been completely chewed off, but thankfully his rectum remained undamaged. After treatment he was helped to his legs and within an hour he was drinking fresh water and eating fresh greens.
It was not until early the next morning that he tentatively ventured close enough to his Keeper to drink milk from the bottle, and by the end of his first day in the Nursery he had developed a real taste for his formula milk and would eagerly feed. It was not long before he was sucking the Keeper’s fingers and with the calming influence of Ziwa who is in the next door night stockade to the little newcomer he embraced having companionship again.
We have named him Alamaya, which is the Maa word for 'Brave'. He was rescued not far from where little Boromoko was rescued, and has an identical face, with prominent protruding bug eyes fringed with beautiful eye lashes. He has the same loving easy nature and has settled in surprisingly fast to Nursery life. We cannot help feel that he just might be related to little Boromoko as they have a very similar and very distinctive look, and were rescued from exactly the same area.
His wounds continue to be cleaned and treated with green clay administered regularly to keep infection at bay. It was not long before we chose to let Alamaya join the other orphans, and this was something he embraced. Clearly he is revelling in having a loving elephant family surround him once more, as the Nursery orphans have really embraced this little boy, showering him with attention. Almost immediately the Nursery routines were communicated to him by the others, and without a moment’s distraction or disturbance Alamaya has slotted into the fold like a veteran, seemingly knowing the form from the outset.
We’re extremely grateful to everyone on the ground in the Mara who made this time-critical rescue possible. So many people did so much - he is alive today because of their efforts, as another lonely night in the Mara would have proved fatal. Alamaya still has a long journey ahead, needing time for his physical and psychological wounds to heal, but this brave little boy is embracing his ‘second chance’ and we feel sure he will make a full recovery.