On the 8th of April 2013 Nick Trent, the DSWTs pilot operating in the Tsavo Conservation Area, made an urgent call to the Kaluku HQ reporting that he had discovered a lone baby elephant calf within the Ithumba area in the northern sector of Tsavo East. The calf, who was estimated to be under a year old, was alone along the Tiva river and Nick reported that sadly there were no other elephants visible within the area having scanned the greater landscape thoroughly.
After several radio calls a team of elephant keepers from the Ithumba rehabilitation stockades and one of the DSWTs anti-poaching units was deployed, having to hurry to the site where calf was last sighted, which was some distance from the stockades.
Meanwhile at the Nairobi HQ, the team was prepared for a rescue and a rescue plane was put on standby at Wilson Airport, waiting for the go-ahead from the field team in Tsavo. With GPS coordinates and guidance from Nick, who was still monitoring the elephant calf from the air, the ground team finally made it to the location, but the calf was now 2kms from the road so the rangers and keepers approached the calf stealthily through the bush.
Despite being clearly scared, the young male calf remained remarkably composed as the keepers got closer and very quickly and efficiently captured him using a blanket and capture ropes to secure him and prevent him from trying to get away and hurting himself. The rescue was surprisingly easy, yet the hardest part was yet to come as the vehicle needed to transport the calf was quite some distance away across muddy ground caused by the heavy rains of the last few days, making manoeuvring the vehicle through the slippery terrain no easy feat.
After some time and after getting stuck several times in the thick mud, the vehicle managed to finally pick up the calf and get back to the road in order to get the calf to the Ithumba airstrip as quickly as possible where the rescue plane was already waiting along with some of the Nairobi keepers to look after the baby elephant on the journey back.
By 5pm in the evening the rescue plane and the calf and keepers had taken off from Ithumba. The orphan on the flight continued to remain calm and friendly to the keepers, perhaps knowing that they had come to help him and that he was in safe hands, as when he finally arrived at the Nairobi Nursery as darkness was falling he showed no sign of aggression and accepted the keepers trustingly.
This new orphaned boy has been named Tundani after the area in which he was found and he has since continued to accept his new human family, meeting his new elephant friends only two days after his arrival having shown a wonderful willingness to embrace his new home. Despite becoming extremely bloated after his second night in Nairobi and having been giving the correct medication, Tundani is feeding well and enjoying his time in Nairobi National Parks forests.