The rescue of Tagwa

Published on the 14th of July, 2016

On the 6th of May Angela was called by Simon Gitau, Senior Warden Mount Kenya, with reports of an orphaned elephant sighted in community lands, abandoned by the elephant herds of Mount Kenya National Park

Share the article

On the 6th of May Angela was called by Simon Gitau, Senior Warden Mount Kenya, with reports of an orphaned elephant sighted in community lands, abandoned by the elephant herds of Mount Kenya National Park. The community thankfully were elephant friendly and sought to find assistance for the little baby alerting KWS personnel in the area.

With heavy rain storms that afternoon in Nairobi it seemed unlikely that the calf could be captured in time and driven the one hour to the Nanyuki airstrip before night fall, so the decision was made to rescue the baby and keep her overnight at the Kenya Wildlife Service Mount Kenya headquarters. This the KWS did, with guidance from Company Commander Nelson Leponyapui, keeping her safe, comfortable and warm, until early the next morning. 

Thankfully the weather held off and the DSWT rescue team were able to get away early, landing at the Nanyuki airfield by 8.00am. The little calf, estimated to be approximately eight months old, was already waiting at the Nanyuki airstrip in the back of the KWS vehicle, very weak and worryingly thin. Immediately she was fed some milk and placed on an IV drip by the DSWT for the duration of the flight. Thankfully the IV fluids did her good and she appeared much stronger on arrival at the Nursery and was able to get to her feet unaided, and took a second bottle of milk before settling in to feed on browse. Like we have seen before with the Mount Kenya orphans that we have rescued in the past, she is covered in a protective blanket of dark fuzzy hair all over her body. We have chosen the name Tagwa for this little girl, an area on Mount Kenya not far from where she was rescued.

Mount Kenya National Park was established in 1949, and protects the region surrounding the mountain, and is home to abundant fauna and flora. Currently the National Park is within the forest reserve which encircles the whole mountain and in 1997 the mountain and surrounding forest reserve was named a UNESCO world Heritage Site. Apart from the obvious touristic value, as it is a place of extraordinary beauty, Mount Kenya is an extremely important water catchment for the surrounding areas.

In an effort to protect small holdings on the lower reaches of the mountain from straying wildlife fences have been erected in parts. It is sometimes that wildlife is caught on the wrong side of these fences and we think this is what happened in Tagwa’s case. Judging by her condition she has been without Mum for quite some time, possibly four or even five days. It is likely that in her desperation she sought company which is why she ended up in the grounds of a Community Member’s small holding seeking help. Thankfully she found herself amidst sympathetic surroundings, as sometimes communities can be hostile towards elephants who can exact a heavy toll on their crops.