During one of our Chyulu Desnaring Team’s routine patrols on the 18th of August in the Kibwezi forest, they came across a tiny elephant calf of about 5 months old stuck in a drying waterhole on the boundary with the community in an area called 'Kithasyo' and managed to extract the calf assisted by the community. We chose to name the calf “Chyulu” (Pronounced Chulu) since it is the first elephant rescued in the newly created Chyulu National Park created to try and preserve the indigenous forests that clothe the Chyulu Hills abutting Tsavo West National Park. The waterhole in question is often frequented by elephants, since it is the last to dry during the dry season making it a hot-spot for poaching, which is rife in the area. A female elephant was, in fact, found poached some l0 days ago, and it is believed that this could be the mother of the calf.
The baby was captured easily, and although thin, was still quite strong. Since it was too late to organise an airlift to the Nairobi Nursery, the calf was driven to the Voi Stockades, where she was given rehydration salts and milk, and the usual prophylactic antibiotic injection, and held for the night. By the second milk feed, amazingly, she had calmed right down, realising that the humans that surrounded her now were not the hostile community members that had killed her mother, but friends that offered her milk. By the next morning she was suckling the hands of the Keepers and following them around as though she had been with them for weeks! The plane arrived at the National Park strip at noon, and the calf was roped and loaded for the journey lying on the rescue tarpaulin. She arrived at the Nursery in the evening, and was immediately welcomed with great excitement and joy by the Nursery females, namely Loijuk, Lualeni and Makena, whom we thought might be a little jealous of the tiny newcomer, but instead displayed all the motherly instincts for which female elephants are known.
The very next morning, little Chyulu was out and about with all the others, and even enjoyed the mudbath, paying no attention to the hordes of visitors who come on a daily basis at that hour to see the Nursery babies. Although the Keepers tried to restrain her from going into the mudwallow, she insisted upon doing so, delighting all the onlookers, and amazing her Attendants.
Little Chyulu has been one of the smoothest rescues the Trust has achieved, and is basking in the undivided attention of Loijuk, who adores her, and also both Lualeni and Makena. Surprisingly Sian, who is assumed, will be the next in line for the Mini Matriarch-ship of the Nursery orphans, is happy to allow the other three to monopolize the new baby. We welcome little Chyulu, who is a very spirited baby, and also very astute.