Yet another call for help, this time to rescue a tiny calf that had fallen down a open faced mine dug for rubies on ‘Mukuki Ranch’ between Tsavo West and East during the moonless night of the 28th October. This area forms a migratory corridor long used by elephants to move between the two Tsavos, but which is now densely populated by an expanding human population making passage extremely dangerous for elephants. Therefore they have taken to streaking through at speed under cover of darkness, in trouble should daylight find them betwixt and between their two safe havens. Disturbed earth all around the pit was evidence that the herd had struggled long and hard to retrieve the precious calf that had fallen in during this process, but eventually the Matriarch had to make the terrible decision to abandon the trapped tiny baby in order to ensure the safety of the rest of her family before daybreak. By morning, what seemed to be a ghost herd had vanished entirely. There was no sign of an elephant anywhere.
As the Miners took their early morning tea, they heard the muffled bellows of the baby and set about searching the area following the sound, and peering into the many deep pits that dotted the ruby rich area. Eventually, they came across the traumatized baby elephant deep inside one that had already yielded some rubies, and taking this as an omen of having been led to this particular pit which might yield many more rubies, they were at pains to save the calf’s life rather than kill it. Having hauled it out, they wrote the name ‘ZURURA’ on one ear, using a felt tip pen, “Zurura” being the Swahili word for ‘The Wanderer’, and in deference to them for having saved his life, that is what he has been named.
The calf was taken to Mwatate Police Station, who contacted The Kenya Wildlife Service authorities in Tsavo East. They in turn contacted The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and we immediately sent our mobile Veterinary Unit to investigate. The unit arrived to a calf swamped by people, all touching feeling and holding him. He was remarkably calm despite what must have been a very frightening time for him. In the absence of any wild elephants in the area, the tiny baby bull was driven to our Voi Elephant Stockades where it was fed milk and rehydration both of which he gulped down enthusiastically and spent time at the stockades having a sand bath while waiting for the Nairobi Keepers to arrive. He is remarkably tame for a calf that was only this morning a wild elephant, he followed the Keepers and offered little resistance.
A Rescue Plane was sent to the Voi airstrip with three Keepers from Nairobi on board, and the calf was flown up to the Nursery where he is now in the stable next door to little “Ndololo”. Both are of a similar age, we estimate him to be 7 to eight weeks; both baby bulls, and both have had a most traumatic beginning to life but who we hope will find solace in each other.