This orphaned elephant calf was spotted by a tribesman in the South Turkana National Reserve at about 1 p.m. on the 21st February 2011, at a place called Kainuk, the mother having died just moments before, her body still warm and her tusks still intact. There were no obvious evidence of bullet wounds so she could possibly have been a victim of drought since her calf was very emaciated, the cheekbones prominent and the cheeks sunken. This would suggest that the calf had not been getting sufficient milk to sustain health possibly due to the poor condition of the mother. The tribesman reported the presence of the dead elephant and its calf to the Head of Security and the Senior Warden of Mt. Elgon National Park who initiated the rescue of the orphaned calf and retrieved the ivory of its dead mother.
The calf - a yearling female - was transported back to the Mt. Elgon National Park Headquarters, where it was held overnight, and fed only water, the Warden having been warned about the danger of feeding a baby elephant cows milk since elephants are totally intolerant to bovine fat. She was flown to the Nairobi Nursery the next morning 22nd February 2011 and was named Kainuk- the name of the particular place where her mother died and where she became an orphan.
She is a very lucky little elephant to have been found by an ele-friendly tribesmen, for that area is populated by the warlike Pokot tribe, who are better known for poaching, many armed with illegal automatic weapons since cattle rustling is also prevalent in that forgotten corner of Kenya. There are very few elephants remaining in the area, particularly now that Chinese Aid workers are on hand to buy ivory and rhino horn, both commodities that are in great demand in Far Eastern countries.
Although very stressed and wild, nevertheless the new orphan took some milk and water from a bottle. She had sufficient strength to give the Keeper in the stable with her quite a run around, but was very exhausted and slept well during the night, waking up at 3 hourly intervals to take her milk and push the Keeper around a bit more afterwards!
However, by morning she was much calmer, especially when the other Nursery elephants were brought to her stable to be introduced to her so that she would know that she was not alone. So eager was she to join them that she was allowed to do so, warmly welcomed by all the older females, particularly the Nursery Matriarch Olare, who lavished loving on her and kept her close throughout the day. She was even at the noon mudbath surrounded by admiring human spectators, which was pretty remarkable having been a wild elephant baby just two days previously!
When she was returned to her stable in the evening, she was again very disturbed and unable to settle, so orphan Turkwel was brought in to share the stable with her, and immediately she calmed down again. She was given homeopathic gut stabilizing remedies since the consistency of the stools was becoming loose, but she slept well, took her milk on cue, and seemed fine in the morning. We are very hopeful that little Kainuk the l8th member of our Nursery herd will continue to thrive, and be afforded a second chance of life a very lucky little elephant who shares her origin with another two Trust orphans Turkwel (now 2 years old) and Nasalot who is now 11 years old, Keeper Independent and possibly pregnant, leading a normal wild elephant life in Northern Tsavo East National Park along with another 28 orphans who are also now integrated into the wild elephant community of that area of the Park. Tsavo is a Protected Area that offers elephants the space they need for a quality of life when grown, and for this reason it becomes the home of all the Trusts orphaned elephants in the fullness of time.