Early morning on the 14th of August, Conservancy Scouts from the Taita Hills Sanctuary, a private Conservancy of 28,000 acres at the foot of the Taita Hills Mountains adjacent to Tsavo West National Park, came across a tiny elephant calf trapped in a steep sided watering point. The calf was bruised and battered from her obviously life threatening struggle but the scouts immediately came to her aid, retrieving her from the water and releasing her in the hope that her mother and herd might return for her.
The calf was still milk dependent, only a couple of months old, and cut a desperately vulnerable figure as she trailed a herd of zebra and three buffalo on the open plains. She was kept under observation for most of the day but there were no other elephants in the area, and how long she had been trapped for was unclear, so whilst there was still time to mount a rescue the DSWT elephant Keepers from Voi were contacted. The sanctuary is situated 1½ hour’s drive from our Voi rehabilitation unit and the men wasted no time getting to the site with much needed milk formula and some daylight in hand.
Simultaneously a rescue aircraft was mobilized from Nairobi and our Nursery Keepers prepared the necessary rescue paraphernalia. The two teams met at the Taita airfield and handed over their precious cargo. The female calf was carefully prepared for her flight with an intravenous drip inserted into her ear vein before take off. It was close to nightfall by the time she arrived at the Nairobi Nursery with a carefully prepared stable awaiting her arrival. She cried much of the night, missing her lost family enormously but with the reassuring company of the rest of the Nursery orphans along with loving tender attention from her keepers she eventually settled. We have called her Godoma, the name of the valley close to where she was rescued, and we estimate she was about five to six months old on arrival.
While Godoma, despite her injuries, did well physically, she has missed her lost family terribly and has taken a long time to settle and comfortably integrate into the Nursery herd. She has been shy and reserved, remaining on the fringes of the group, but with the resident orphans giving her constant attention we have watched her change and grow more comfortable. In the beginning the first stable we placed her in caused her great anxiety. She felt claustrophobic, but when we changed her stable and placed her in one with a higher roof and more space, Mwashoti’s stable, she was instantly more comfortable. Thankfully mellow Mwashoti had no problem with the stable change.