On the 31st of July 2013 the Kenya Wildlife Service alerted the DSWT rescue team based in Voi of an orphaned elephant in the Taita area on Lualenyi Ranch. The calf had first been sighted on July 28th by members of the Italian Association of Experts on Africa (IAEA) who were working in the area. They monitored the calf over the following days to assess its situation and to see whether it would re-join its herd. The calf attempted to find company with a wild elephant herd followed by a group of four wild bulls, yet he soon became detached realising he didn’t belong with them.
So the decision was made on the 31st to make a report to the KWS/DSWT Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit and call in for a rescue. The message was relayed to the Nairobi Nursery and within an hour a rescue team was deployed and were en-route to Tsavo East flying from Nairobi’s Wilson airport.
Meanwhile Dr Poghon, the DSWT’s Kenya Wildlife Service field veterinarian had mobilised a rescue team from the Voi elephant stockades and located the calf, managing to capture the young and feisty bull and restrain him in order to get him into the vehicle and safely to the Voi airstrip where the rescue plane and the Nairobi team would meet them. The elephant Keepers estimated the calf to be approximately twelve months old and were happy to see he was in a healthy condition, despite obviously being without his mum for some time.
The Taita Ranches within the vast Tsavo Conservation Area is a known hotspot for poaching despite the concentrated efforts of the Kenya Wildlife Service and DSWT’s anti-poaching units, so it is suspected that this orphaned elephant lost it’s mother to poaching. Arriving at the Nairobi Nursery in the late evening the calf was taken into a stockade next to the other orphans and fed well on milk despite being aggressive towards the Keepers. Thanks to the influence of those around him Vuria tamed down fast. He was named after the beautiful Taita Hill's tallest peak, in the shadow of which he was found and rescued.
It was not long before Vuria joined the ever growing Nursery orphan herd and although a little stressed initially the speed in which he completely calmed down and fell into the routine was amazing for all to see. In a few days Vuria is now one of the family, still obviously sad by the loss of his beloved family, but relieved to have found another family, both two legged and four.