Published on the 26th of September, 2016
On the 6th of July Angela was contacted by Richard Bonham of Big Life regarding reports from the Narraengolo within the Chyulu / Amboseli ecosystem of an abandoned orphaned elephant. A Big Life Ranger who was off duty later confirmed the community report to Craig Miller also of Big life, who dispatched scouts to the area where she was last sighted. They found a very young emaciated calf with little evidence of any other elephants in the area. To this day the reasons for her abandonment remain unclear.
In consultation with the Kenya Wildlife Service, and due to the young age of the calf, Big Life made the decision to rescue the orphan, and coordinated with Angela the rescue collection from the Mbirikani airstrip on the plains below the Chyulu Hills, the closest airstrip from her rescue site. This area falls within Masai Community group ranches which form the corridor between Amboseli National Park and the Chyulu Hills National Park. Thankfully community conservation efforts have been embraced within this area, and generally speaking wildlife is able to cohabit peacefully with the pastoral people. However from time to time there is human wildlife conflict and retribution spearing of elephants can happen in these instances.
The DSWT rescue team landed at the Chyulu Hills to find a very young baby of approximately five months who had obviously been without her mother for a good number of days before being discovered given her poor body condition. She was extremely dehydrated so was offered milk and rehydration fluids, before the attentive team, and by now a number of interested community members, went about preparing her for the flight back to Nairobi; laying her on the rescue mattress on the canvas stretcher, her legs fastened with straps and her body covered with a blanket. Once loaded into the aircraft she was immediately placed on a life-saving drip for the duration of the flight of 45 minutes.
On arrival at the Nursery she was guided into a warm stable next to Ambo, another baby elephant rescued from the Amboseli region area. With comfort from a Keeper, soft hay and a hanging blanket she immediately settled and began to feed on the plentiful greens that were cut for her, which was surprising for one so young, but clearly during her ordeal she had survived alone by eating vegetation. She was exhausted and very quickly lay down on the soft hay and fell into a deep sleep, comforted by the presence of the other elephants around her as by now the Nursery orphans had returned to their night stables. We called her Esampu, a Maa name for light and shade and also the name of the area she was rescued from. The reasons for Esampu losing her family remains unclear, but it is possible it is as a result of Human Wildlife Conflict in the area.
We managed to stabilise her condition and stomach during the early days in the Nursery and once her strength improved she was able to join the baby herd out in the forest, along with new best friends Tamiyoi and Pare. Esampu has been a revelation, with her happy disposition she has settled fast, and has fed well both on milk and greens, and as a result her condition has improved extremely quickly. She loves the company of the other elephants, and relishes playing with her new human family too.