The Rescue of Galla

Published on the 9th of June, 2016

The 21st March began as a particularly fraught day for us with the news that two orphaned elephants were in need of rescue at different ends of the country, one having fallen down a well in the Namunyak Conservancy in Northern Kenya (rescued separately), and the other most likely a victim of poaching in Tsavo East National Park near to the huge lone rock named “Sobo”, close to the Eastern boundary of the Park

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The 21st March began as a particularly fraught day for us with the news that two orphaned elephants were in need of rescue at different ends of the country, one having fallen down a well in the Namunyak Conservancy in Northern Kenya (rescued separately), and the other most likely a victim of poaching in Tsavo East National Park near to the huge lone rock named “Sobo”, close to the Eastern boundary of the Park. Were this not enough, we then received the tragic news that one of our Elephant Keepers based at the Voi Rehabilitation unit had collapsed and died very suddenly and unexpectedly whilst out in the bush with the orphans. It is testament to the commitment and professionalism of our team that they were able to continue efficiently and effectively with the important rescue of the young calf from Tsavo despite the shock of losing a colleague so unexpectedly.

The orphan from Tsavo had been sighted alone with no evidence of any other elephants in the region by KWS Rangers who called our Voi Unit to notify them about the calf that was far too young to be alone. Our Voi team of Keepers responded swiftly but arrived at the scene to find the calf was nowhere in sight. Following his tracks they managed to trace his movements and located him standing under a tree shading himself from the unforgiving sun. He cut a very forlorn and lonely figure and being under a year old he was already showing signs of being extremely thin, obviously having been without Mum for quite some time. A lactating elephant carcass had been sighted from the air one week before and not far from this area so it is assumed that this might well be his dead mother.

The orphan was captured by the team and safely loaded into a DSWT vehicle and driven all the way to our Voi stockade, a distance of some 60 kms. Here he was given rehydration and settled in a shady stockade as the team waited for the rescue aircraft from Nairobi to arrive. He was then sedated for the flight and loaded onto the aircraft, resting on a canvas stretcher and made comfortable for the one hour and fifteen minute return journey to Nairobi.

He arrived at the Nursery in the late evening and quickly rose to his feet full of fight. Although thin he took to his milk bottle almost immediately, and fed on the fresh cut greens throughout.

Thankfully with no external injuries, although slightly thin, his chances of survival are good. He has been named “Galla” after the pastoral tribe that once traversed Tsavo at the turn of the 20th Century, and whose pebble stone cairn graves can be found throughout what is now the Tsavo East National Park.

Upon his arrival Galla remained strong and aggressive and had to be confined to his Stockade in order to settle into his new surroundings and become accustomed to his new human family. Over the past few days he has settled down, and is now out with the other orphans on their daily jaunts into the forest to forage. We are confident with time this baby will grow into a fine and healthy young bull, ready to begin his journey back into the wild.