On the 28th of February 2013 a lone female calf was sighted by staff at Borana Lodge in northern Kenya. Although the baby elephant was clearly unaccompanied there were elephant herds within the area, so the staff decided to wait and see whether the calf would re-join her family.
Borana Ranch lies between the peaks and glaciers of Mount Kenya to the south and the vistas of mountains and desert to the north, having taken its name from the native Boran cattle farmed on the arid grasslands that cover the environment. The ranch, which continues to be a successful working cattle ranch, sits within a vast conservation area, which is teaming with a host of wildlife and especially the African Elephant of which there is a population of over 300 within the conservation area. The ranch has twelve matriarch cows with radio collars in the Laikipia area so that they can monitor their movements, with one particular matriarch taking her extended family of sixty on a journey covering 92 miles in one week.
During the following days after the calf's first sighting the lodge management continued to look for her yet did not spot her until the morning of the 2nd of March, when the decision was made to take her into their safekeeping, as clearly she remained an orphan and her condition was worsening. The Borana Ranch rangers successfully managed to capture the abandoned elephant calf at 1.45pm on the 2nd within the Simangua Valley of the Ranch, before she was loaded into their vehicle and driven to the lodge to await the DSWT Rescue team, who had received the report earlier in the morning and had prepared for an afternoon departure from Nairobi's Wilson airport.
On arrival at the Borana airstrip the DSWT team could already see how stressed the calf was, as is the case with all of the orphans who are forced to endure such a traumatic ordeal, so the calf was given a small dose of Stresnil as well as the precautionary antibiotic to guard her against pneumonia resulting from a weakened immune system.
The Rescue Team and the new orphan arrived at the Nairobi Nursery in the late afternoon after a successful plane journey and she was soon safely relocated to a comfortable stockade next to Sities, who was a soothing and loving presence to the newcomer who needed all the reassurance and care she could get. After the pressure of the rescue it was finally time for a closer inspection of the skinny new girl joining the orphan family; having been aged at approximately one year old she was soon given the name 'Laragai', which is both the name of a beautiful valley within Borana Ranch as well as one of the ranch's exclusive houses.
As expected Laragai was in a wild and emaciated state whilst also being riddled with stomach parasites, although despite her condition she took milk from a bucket during the night, despite being very wary of the Keepers. The following morning she had calmed down noticeably and took milk from a bottle, but only through the safety of the stockade gate as she still didn't want her new human family to get too close. Laragai took much longer than usual to tame down despite our Keepers best efforts.
Finally we took the plunge and let her out of the stockades to join the others on the 12th March, and after some early pushing of both the Keepers and the other Nursery orphans she settled down fast and even joined the visiting public at 11.00am for the one hour along with her Nursery inmates. Laragai has been going from strength to strength and both she and Lima Lima have developed this special bond and nowadays even break away from the main group to sneak back to the compound in search of extra milk!