On October 5th Ol Lentille Rangers on routine patrol sighted an abandoned baby elephant calf, estimated to be 18 months old. There were no other elephants in the area, and the fate of her mother remained unclear. The Rangers were posted on 24 hour follow-and-observe duty.
On October 6th a group of elephants approached the calf, and it was hoped that she would be reunited with her family but unfortunately the herd moved off seemingly disinterested in the lone baby.
On the 7th October The Conservancy informed the Kenya Wildlife Service about the orphan who contacted Angela Sheldrick. Ol Lentille Conservancy is on the edge of Laikipia in Northern Kenya, approximately a 1 hour 15 minute flight from Nairobi. We were informed by the Conservancy management that they would await our team and provide all the ground logistics in order to aid us in the capturing of the calf. On arrival at the Ol Lentille airstrip at 3.10 pm the team led by Peter Mbulu were immediately taken the where the elephant was, and having disembarked from the plane with a canvas stretcher, mattress, straps and ropes, and a few blankets the curious onlookers were incredulous as to how a rescue of a fairly large calf was going to be undertaken.
Our Keepers told their expectant audience to wait and watch – and so it was that the team efficiently approached the calf, were able to get close enough to it and when she charged threw the blanket over the calf’s head enabling them to grab her behind her ears, restrain and constrain her in no time at all. She was then subdued with tranquilizers to take the edge off her stress and driven back to the airstrip and loaded onto the plane. Total operation time 70 minutes!! The aircraft was airborne to Nairobi at 4.45 pm.
The young calf has been given the name Lentille and has obviously been without her family and mum for sometime. She was reluctant to take her milk, and after feeding on greens in the stockade collapsed 24 hours later. She required a drip in order to gather strength enough to get back to her feet and it was some time before she would feed adequately in order to fully regain her strength.