Published on the 1st of April, 2017
On the 28th November, just as expectant clouds promised more hoped-for rain to relieve the drought that had gripped Tsavo National Park, the pilot from the Tsavo Trust sighted a tiny elephant calf standing beside her collapsed mother on the plains near Aruba.
Although some rain had fallen recently, it had come too late for the mother, who had obviously been struggling for a long time evidenced by the bare earth that surrounded while her desperate baby helplessly stood by her side. This sighting was immediately reported to the DSWT/KWS funded Mobile Veterinary Unit headed by Dr. Poghon, and together with Keepers from our Voi stockades, the rescue teams proceeded to the scene, having been given coordinates by the Tsavo Trust Pilot.
Upon arrival it seemed likely that the calf’s mother had succumbed to the effects of the past brutal dry season and was dying of starvation for she was barely breathing and too far gone to get to her feet and retrieve, her emaciated calf, of approximately l0 months old, bravely standing by her side protecting her. The calf was still feisty, although thin, for she too had clearly suffered the effects of the drought, having been deprived of her mother’s milk. The Rescue Team worked hard to try and save the collapsed mother, but sadly she slipped away, so their attention then turned to capturing the young calf. This was accomplished swiftly after which she was restrained and placed in the back of a Landcruiser and brought safely back to the Voi stockades to await the arrival of a rescue aircraft from Nairobi to ferry the baby to the DSWT Nairobi Nursery.
Named “Kuishi”(meaning “to live” in Swahili) , the baby arrived during our Foster Parents’ visiting time at 5.00pm, very thin but still with sufficient strength to put up a fight and with a strong will to live. Having been comforted by other resident elephant orphans, she settled fast and it was only two short days before she was able to join the other orphans out in the forest. She embraced her new life, relishing the abundance of food that was provided for her, since clearly during her young life this had been in short supply as she lived through a drought year, with unforgiving heat and little nourishment, as her mother struggled to stay alive.
Kuishi is an extremely lucky calf to have been rescued in time since Tsavo encompasses a vast landscape. She is shy yet playful, but has made good friends with feisty Esampu who no doubt will be teaching her naughty ways in the fullness of time!