Villagers of Chala, near the Tsavo Tanzanian border, spotted the lone elephant calf coming from the Tanzania side. They had seen a large herd migrating from Tsavo West National Park into Tanzania a few days previously, and it is assumed that this orphan is another poaching casualty. The calf, aged between one and two years old was still milk dependent, and was very emaciated, with no chance of survival without access to milk. It had obviously been without its mother for sometime.
The villagers from the community who now occupy what has always been an ancient traditional elephant migratory passage between Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, are certainly not known to be ele-friendly, since inevitably there is a great deal of human/wildlife conflict in the area. Believing that all elephants pose a risk, the villagers reported the presence of the calf to the Maktau KWS Community Officer, who in turn got in touch with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Ziwani anti-poaching De-Snaring team operating in the region. By the time the Team arrived to rescue the orphan, it had retreated into thick bush, so the Trusts Voi Elephant Keepers were summoned to come and assist. Together they managed to locate and capture the calf during the late afternoon of the 7th July, 2011 with hordes of curious community members watching from afar.
The calf, a female just over a year old, was bruised, dehydrated and weak but still strong enough to put up quite a struggle. Having been overpowered and bound, she was transported in the back of a Pickup to the Trusts Voi Elephant Stockades, fed water, and spent the night in a Stockade with the other Keeper Dependent orphans nearby, all of whom reached through the separating bars to comfort and touch her. The next day a chartered rescue plane was not available until 2 p.m. so it was only in the late evening of July 8th that she reached the Nairobi Nursery, having been immobilized for the flight. The KWS Vet Dr. Poghon attached to the Trusts Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit was on hand to administer the revival drug, after which the orphan got to its feet. We feared the usual bloating which results from the slowing of the metabolism due to the immobilizing drug, which can put pressure on vital body organs should the calf collapse during the night, thereby compromising survival. Fortunately, however, the new baby managed to survive the night, and began taking milk from a bottle the next morning. We are therefore cautiously optimistic that she will make it.
She has been named Kilabasi, the name of a large hill in the area. She will spend several days in the Nursery Taming Stockade before being allowed out to join the others, first having been de-wormed. This is the 3rd orphan elephant to have been brought in during the month of July 2011.