On the 1st July Lewa relayed a report to the Sheldrick Trust from Sera Conservancy that Samburu Scouts had retrieved a young calf from one of the many wells in that area, Kisima Hamsini. The baby elephant had slipped in while the herd crowded around to drink water. Because of the presence of the pastoral people in the area the elephants do not linger long, and tend to drink here at night often while passing through to more fertile pastures.
By morning any evidence of elephants had vanished, only the screams of the desperate baby alerted the community. Due to sensitisation throughout the region these orphans are often reported and timely solutions sought for them. The community conservation scouts extracted the calf and he was kept safe until we could send a rescue plane to fly him to the Nursery. This is a hot and arid part of the country and extremely dry at this time of year, with incidents of human-wildlife conflict increasing as both people and elephants struggle to share the same water resources.
The flight to northern Kenya past Mount Kenya and beyond Samburu to Sera conservancy is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. The airstrip is short and fairly crude which makes rescues from here challenging. The calf had been driven in the back of a land cruiser to wait at the airfield shaded from the unforgiving sun while the scouts awaited the plane and keepers. He was a big, robust calf full of fight, but with bruises from his ordeal and very infected eyes as a result of his struggle in the putrid water while trapped in the well. Thankfully because the calf was small only about five to six months old, the weight was well within the limitations for a Cessna Caravan for a short takeoff as the team departed with the calf safely strapped in the back and an IV drip in place to compensate for the time he had been without mother’s milk.
On arrival in Nairobi he was loaded onto the waiting pickup with all the crew at Wilson Airport now extremely comfortable wrangling elephant orphans having dealt with many before. Even the Police who man the airport’s entrance gate curiously seek the details of each and every case as we exit the airport perimeter for the short journey to the Nairobi National Park, and the Sheldrick Trust Nursery.
A very feisty baby was off loaded and placed in a stockade, too stressed for a stable, and while he looked like the perfect little grey fat-cheeked Dumbo he packed a punch. It took two intensive days in order to settle him down.
We called him Rapa after a hill in the area from where he was rescued. In time he calmed sufficiently and was able to join the established orphans for their daily outing in the forest. He has assimilated well and the calming care of the others has turned him into a happy member of the nursery herd.