It was Sunday 21st February 2010 at about midday when the Manager of Loisaba Ranch Mr. Tom Silvester, received word from his ranch staff that a baby elephant had been spotted alone on the border of the Ranch with the tribal lands inhabited by the notorious warlike Pokot tribe, who are certainly not known to be ele-friendly. There poaching, cattle rustling, and resolving tribal vendettas is rife for Pokotland is a region where the long arm of the law is largely non-existent. The poaching of elephants for ivory, plus the killing of them for no other reason than that they are wild animals is common place, and as a result of this human/elephant conflict also takes a heavy toll of any elephants passing through Pokot country, as they have over millennia.
The Ranch workers monitored the lone calf for the rest of the day, but there were no other elephants to be seen in the area, so as nightfall approached, Alistair Boyd, the manager of Loisaba lodge, decided to save the elephant baby. With the help of his Staff, he managed to overpower the calf, who was still sufficiently strong to put up a spirited struggle. However, once subdued and tied down, he was taken to the Ranch Headquarters, where he took water from a bucket, and was given an Attendant as company for the night. It must have been a pleasant surprise for the little elephant to find a human who was caring and friendly, who offered him greens and water, and communicated with him in a gentle voice. He responded, and calmed down.
At first light the rescue plane took off from Nairobi, armed with three Keepers, all the rescue paraphanalia, milk, rehydrants and the usual medicaton The little elephant arrived in the Nursery ahead of Daphne, Angela and Robert, who were traveling by car from Tsavo at the time.
He was found near a small spring on the Ranch boundary, and was given the name “Chemi Chemi” which is the Swahili word for a Spring, since the Samburu or Pokot tribal name for a Spring was too difficult for most people to pronounce correctly. Little Chemi Chemi, or Chem Chem for short, who is approximately eight months old we think settled in instantly, especially when he found Melia next door to him. The very next morning he was allowed out to meet all 19 Nursery inmates, who embraced him instantly. From the start, he took milk from a bottle gratefully, attended the noon mudbath, which he enjoyed immensely, and clearly loved once again being part of an elephant herd, albeit one of miniatures. Olare, who has the makings of a very caring and proficient little Matriarch was, and is, exceedingly protective of him, and being of Northern elephant stock, where the population has been distilled until only the fittest have managed to survive, he will make a wonderful addition to our orphaned herd.
Little Chemi Chemi brings the Nursery herd back to 20 and is a very friendly and forgiving little elephant, for he must have witnessed much violence against his kind in the past, not least the possible slaughter of his elephant mother either from poaching or human/wildlife conflict.