Published on the 12th of October, 2016
On the first of July Angela received news about an abandoned elephant first sighted by the Tsavo Trust monitoring team close to the Dida Harea plains, in Southern Tsavo East National Park. The calf was continually being rejected by the wild herds that were passing while heading to water, and having been observed for much of the day, it was clear that this was an orphan. She was thin, weak and extremely disorientated.
The DSWT Elephant Keepers were granted permission by KWS to mobilize a rescue and immediately headed out to where the calf was. Despite being aged approximately eighteen months, she put up little resistance during capture, and with legs tied she was loaded onto the waiting vehicle and driven to the Voi airstrip to await the arrival of the rescue aircraft that had been arranged to ferry the calf back to the Nursery. Given that Angela had been given advance warning to coordinate a rescue, there was not much waiting time before the plane from Nairobi landed at the Voi Park airstrip.
Thereafter the Nairobi Keepers prepared the orphan for the flight, ensuring that she was hydrated for the duration and injected with all the necessary prophylactic medication before takeoff. The flight back to Nairobi took approximately 1 ½ hours and throughout the journey she lay strapped down comfortably, seemingly calmed by the movement of the plane.
Once safely at the Nursery she was lifted off the back of the pickup and placed in her designated stockade; but before being unstrapped and assisted to her feet she was given a taste of milk to help encourage her to feed. Once up however, she was full of fight, the IV fluids having helped her to gain some strength. She relished the abundant greens that had been cut and placed in her Stockade, as Tsavo at this time of the year is exceptionally dry. Throughout the night she devoured the greens hungrily, and savored the close proximity of the other Nursery orphans in the adjoining stockades who offered her much attention and communicated with her constantly, offering reassuring rumbles.
Tentatively at first she took milk from a bucket, still too fearful to take it from a hand-held bottle, but having had a taste for it, by morning she was prepared to charge for the bottle and desperately down the contents. Daphne named this baby ‘Maramoja’, which means ‘straight away’ in Swahili. The reason behind the name is that she was rescued on Angela’s birthday, the 1st of July, (Moja being 1 in Swahili) and prompt action having taken place the moment our teams were alerted; also because “Mara” happens to be Angela’s second Christian name.
She loved the company of the others orphans, and after a few days she was calm enough to be free to join the other Nursery orphans in the Nairobi forest. Maramoja is a very lovely and gentle elephant, who has grown into the Nursery routines quite comfortable and thankfully is beginning to put on condition and thrive once more. The reason for her being orphaned however remains a mystery, but her poor condition was a very clear indicator that she had been without Mum for quite some time before being rescued.