Early morning on Sunday the 8th September Angela Sheldrick received a call from Batian Craig about a new born calf that had apparently walked into Kiparo Boma on Olpejita Conservancy in Laikipia. The calf was new born, very unstable on her legs, and in search of food and comfort. The mystery was that no elephants remained in the area.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust immediately mobilized a rescue team and flew to Olpejita, a 40 minute flight from Nairobi. The calf was already waiting for the rescue team on the Olpejita airfield having been transported there from Kiparo boma by Olpejita Scouts. The DSWT Keepers immediately gave the hungry baby a bottle of milk and then prepared her for the journey home, ensuring that she was placed on a drip for the duration of the flight to boost her strength further.
On arrival at the Nursery it was clear that her limbs were compromised, with her joints not as strong as they should be, and we think this is the reason her mother and herd had abandoned her as she simply would not have been able to keep up with the herd. These difficult decisions have to be made in the wild and a herd cannot be encumbered by anything that may compromise the safety of the family as a whole in these difficult times. New born elephant calves need to be capable of traveling over 20 km just 24 hours after birth. We have seen this graphically illustrated with our ex orphans now living wild lives and have marveled at just want is expected from a newborn infant while observing their wild born babies. They have also taken them just days old deep into the waterhole and we have observed little Yetu just two days old completely out of her depth swimming across a filled waterhole.
We called this calf Kamok, a name taken from Olpejita Ranch. Given that her umbilical cord remained soft and fresh, and the pads on her feet where clean and hardly used and her ears petal pink we took the precaution of assuming this calf had never received her mothers colostrums and transfused plasma from a full grown healthy elephant into her tiny body to ensure she had some natural antibodies. This happened while she slept on a mattress covered in a blanket and slept, exhausted from her ordeal. On waking she took to her milk bottle immediately and followed trustingly all those around her. Very soon she latched onto her Keepers and security blanket that all infant baby elephants seem to love and get so much comfort from just like human babies. Her wobbly joints have thankfully grown stronger over time and she is now able to walk long distances following her Keepers.
She joins the other orphans for periods of time, but while She loves their company she still prefers the company of her elephant Keepers at this early stage. She is extremely playful and loves play in the sand and red earth, and is curiously exploring everything around her as she learns to get better control of her tiny little trunk. She has started to do playful baby mock charges, and is simply enchanting, and all those who meet her fall completely and helplessly in love.