The 3rd week in October was turning out to be a busy one at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Hot on the heels of the rescue of little Wass and his two baby ostrich friends on the 15th October another call was received by the Trust on the 16th about a baby elephant in the Mount Kenya region. This baby was about 1 year old and was found wandering in the fields of Marania Farm close to the Mount Kenya elephant corridor.
The Mount Kenya wildlife corridor lies across Kisima and Marania Farms and has been a huge success, essentially re-linking the elephant populations of Samburu and Lakipia. Elephants that were once free to roam between habitats, but can no longer do so because of fencing and increased human development, can cause a huge amount of damage creating conflict with local communities therefore threatening their own survival. The electric fences of the Mount Kenya elephant corridor protect local communities from marauding elephants whilst enabling the elephants to migrate between two very diverse habitats in search of food, minerals and mates, and the Mount Kenya habitat provides a much needed dry season range for elephants . The corridor is approximately 14km long and opened in 2011. Initial worries that the elephants would be unwilling to use an underpass to cross the busy highway, linking Northern Kenya to the rest of the country, proved unfounded with the first elephant making the traverse within a month of opening. Hundreds of elephants were to follow in the subsequent months.
The baby elephant that was found on Marania Farm was thought to have slipped between the electric fences which prevent the large adult elephants from entering the fields. It seems likely that his mother was killed by poachers as three weeks earlier a carcass of a lactating female elephant was found with its tusks removed. The calf probably managed to stay with the herd for a while, possibly managing to scrounge some milk from another mother as his condition is fairly good, before becoming separated. The herd was nowhere to be seen when the baby was finally spotted by the Marania scouts. The scouts alerted Lewa Wildlife Conservancy who in turn notified the Kenya Wildlife Service and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Immediately after DWST was notified about the baby a rescue plane and team was arranged to fly to Lewa airstrip to meet up with Dr. Mutinda, a KWS vet, and his ground team.
Dr. Mutinda chose to anaesthetize the baby elephant and it was then transported by vehicle to Lewa airstrip where the KWS ground team met up with the DSWT rescue team. Once the elephant calf was loaded onto the aircraft and safely secured he was revived to ensure that he did not remain under anaesthetic for too long as this is never advisable with baby elephants.
The calf arrived at the Nairobi Nursery after dark and thankfully still looked in good condition. Amazingly he began to drink milk from a bottle that night and was clearly extremely ravenous. He tamed down quickly and it was only a few days before he was able to join the other orphans and assimilate into the Nursery group. We have called him Sirimon a fitting Mount Kenya name.