On the 22nd of June we received a report from Caroline and Andrew Mules regarding an injured elephant calf, clearly an orphan judging by his thin body condition and his horrendous injuries. He had a spear wound in his head, piecing right through into the honey comb of his forehead, and a snare wound on his leg, not dissimilar to Mwashoti’s injury.
The calf was in the Rumuruti Forest and was first sighted through the electric fence from Simba Farm. Because of the late hour nothing could be done that day, but on the 23rd KWS were called to the site. Rumuruti Forest is a protected forest in Laikipia West district approximately 15,000 acres, but surrounded by small holdings and farms. The wildlife within this remnant forest is increasingly threatened due to human wildlife conflict. Portions of the forest are fenced, with plans to fence the entire forest in the future.
Angela Sheldrick from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was called and immediately a rescue was mobilized and the DSWT rescue team landed at 2.20pm on Simba Farm. The farm management could not have been more helpful, cutting their fence in order for the land cruiser and rescue teams to have easy access to where the young orphan was, and laying on both man power and vehicles to assist.
Together with KWS the DSWT team tracked the calf a short distance before they sighted him and were able to capture the one year old without too much resistance. He had not managed to walk too far from where he was sighted the previous day, and he was unable to put up too much of a struggle due to his compromised leg and weakened state. He was laid on a mattress with a blanket covering his eyes while his legs were strapped. Without delay the calf was loaded onto the back of a land cruiser and driven to the airstrip, which was thankfully close by.
The DSWT/KWS Mobile Veterinary Unit had by this stage just arrived having been called to site from Olpejeta where they had been treating another case. The KWS veterinarian Dr. Rono seconded to the DSWT funded team was able too assess the calf’s injuries at the airstrip before takeoff. The baby was given a tranquilizer to manage his stress levels and placed on an intravenous drip for the duration of the one-hour flight back to Nairobi with an elephant Keeper sat by his side comforting him. He finally arrived at 6.00pm at the Nairobi Nursery and his wounds were cleaned and treated, packed with green clay, and antibiotics administered. While he was still prone the Keepers lifted his head so that he might get the taste of milk. Amazingly he fed well on a bottle of milk, suckling beautifully before being helped to his feet. Once up everybody had to make a hasty retreat over the stockade walls as he charged around clearly extremely confused by events. There were rumbles of communication from the next-door stockades with both Elkerama (recently rescued) and Arruba his immediate neighbors extremely interested in the new arrival. He knew then he was amongst his own kind, which was reassuring for him.
As the days have passed this brave but tragic little figure has fought to live and we are happy to report his wounds are healing beautifully. He remains in the stockades while we wait for his leg wound to improve, but we are confident that despite the odds and with intensive treatment and care, this lovely little boy who has been dealt such a cruel start to life, will indeed have a second chance - in no small part due to his fierce driving will to live.