The orphaned calf was sited alone by a Tour Driver on the 21st August 2013 in the Sobo area of Tsavo East National Park by a Tour Driver. The tour driver monitored the calf for a while and saw that it was staggering and in a state of collapse. Its location was passed on to the Voi Elephant Keepers who immediately mounted a rescue and having driven to the area, spotted the orphan after an hour’s search. It was very weak and easily captured.
Tsavo is very dry at present and there is not much to sustain a baby elephant without it’s mother. The Nairobi DSWT team, having waited for confirmation that the calf had been located by the Voi team, departed Wilson airport at about 3.30pm. The Voi team had driven to Aruba airstrip and secured the elephant ready to be brought back to Nairobi. The Nairobi Team arrived at the Aruba airfield at about 4.45pm where the race was on to get the baby onto the plane and back to Wilson before dark. She was quickly loaded, given Stresnil to calm her and put on a saline drip for rehydration.
The plane touched down at Wilson at 7pm just before it became completely dark and the baby elephant was transferred onto the waiting DSWT pickup for the short journey back to the Nursery. Unfortunately rush hour traffic and ongoing road works conspired to make what should have been a quick 15 minute journey into a 1 hour 15 minute slog. The keepers were masterful at restraining the excitement emanating from surrounding vehicles, the passengers of which were agog at the sight of an elephant, albeit a baby, on the back of a pick-up. Finally, at 8.30pm, everyone arrived home safe and sound.
The newcomer, a female, is estimated to be about 15 months old, and has been named “Mashariki” the Swahili word for “East” in order to donate her origin as Tsavo East National Park. Sobo would have been chosen, as the location where the baby had been found, but there had previously already been an orphan of this name. The baby is severely emaciated, as are many that come in of her age, who have been without mother’s milk for some time. She has a swelling on her underbelly which will be investigated further once she has tamed down.