Alamaya's Story

In the late afternoon on the 17th March Angela Sheldrick received a call from KWS Veterinary Officer Dr. Limo who heads the SWT funded Mara Mobile Veterinary Team. He had news about an orphaned elephant reported near the Purungat area, close to the Mara Bridge, within the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Mara Conservancy wardens and rangers had been monitoring the young calf for some time, and it had become clear to them that this abandoned baby was orphaned, as he had already been ravaged by hyenas. The fate of his herd and mother, and the reason for his abandonment, remains a mystery.

Alamaya's Story

Wasting no time, and aware of the late hour Angela coordinated the rescue mindful that another night alone would leave him vulnerable to the Mara’s many predators and could prove fatal. The SWT Team was hastily scrambled from Nairobi, and in the meantime the SWT/KWS Mobile Mara Veterinary Unit and Dr. Limo headed to where the calf was last seen. With time running out, and no elephants in the area the SWT/KWS Mara Veterinary Team together with the Mara Conservancy rangers captured the approximately fourteen month old calf. This proved to be no mean task, because despite being injured he remained very strong. After a Herculean effort the team were able to restrain him and load him into the back of the Veterinary Unit land cruiser and drive him to the Serena airstrip to wait for the SWT Keepers and rescue aircraft to land.

With the light beginning to fade, it was paramount that the elephant be ready to depart the moment the plane touched down. They touched down at 6.30pm and it was all hands on deck to safely move the calf from the Vet Vehicle to the plane before sunset, which would have forced everyone to overnight as Wilson airport in Nairobi closes at 8.00pm. This wasn’t an option with a now captured calf, and everyone on the ground worked hard so that by 7.00pm, with the elephant secured safely in the back of the aircraft, the plane took off. After a 55 minute flight, the rescue team arrived in darkness back at Wilson airport with the young elephant remaining calm throughout the flight. On close inspection his rear had been chewed up, with his genitals damaged and his tail bitten clean off. His rescue had come in the nick of time.
By 8.30pm this beautiful little elephant was in the sanctuary of the Nursery, the 33 existing orphans calling out to welcome him. Despite it being dark we set about cleaning and treating his terrible wounds and were able to ascertain how bad the damage was, and while his genital area was severely bitten with much of the flesh missing, it had not affected his ability to urinate. Despite his tail being completely chewed off, thankfully his rectum remained undamaged. After treatment he was helped to his feet and within an hour he was drinking fresh water and eating fresh greens.
It was not until early the next morning that he tentatively ventured close enough to his Keeper to drink milk from the bottle, and by the end of his first day in the Nursery he had developed a real taste for his formula milk and would eagerly feed. It was not long before he was sucking the Keeper’s fingers and with the calming influence of Ziwa who is in the next door night stockade to the little newcomer he embraced having companionship again.

We have named him Alamaya, which is the Maa word for 'Brave'. He was rescued not far from where little Boromoko was rescued, and has an identical face, with prominent protruding bug eyes fringed with beautiful eye lashes. He has the same loving easy nature and has settled in surprisingly fast to Nursery life. We cannot help feel that he just might be related to little Boromoko as they have a very similar and very distinctive look, and were rescued from exactly the same area.

It was not long before we chose to let Alamaya join the other orphans, and this was something he welcomed. He reveled in having a loving elephant family surround him once more, as the Nursery orphans embraced this little boy, showering him with attention. Almost immediately the Nursery routines were communicated to him by the others, and without a moment’s distraction or disturbance Alamaya slotted into the fold like a veteran, seemingly knowing the form from the outset.
We’re extremely grateful to everyone on the ground in the Mara who made this time-critical rescue possible. So many people did so much - he is alive today because of their efforts, as another lonely night in the Mara would have proved fatal.

Alamaya's story does have an extraordinary twist however. Initially we always thought Alamaya was a female, and our first reports indicated as much, but an operation on the 3rd July, three months after his rescue, was performed to help cut away scar tissue which was inhabiting Alamaya urinating properly. Early on in the operation it was discovered that Alamaya was a he, so severe were his injuries that nothing remained that could obviously indicate that. So on the 3rd of July our little she turned into a he. Details about the operation can be read in the updates section of Alamaya's profile.

Adopt Alamaya for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Alamaya for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

10 years old



Rescued date

17 March 2015

Rescue Location

Maasai Mara, Mara Triangle

Date of Birth (approximate)

12 January 2014

Reason Orphaned


Age at Rescue

14 months old (approx)

Current Location

Umani Springs Reintegration Unit

Alamaya's featured photos

Our digital adoption programme includes the following:

Personalised adoption certificate.

Monthly email update on your orphan and the project.

Monthly watercolour by Angela Sheldrick.

Access to special content; latest Keepers' Diaries, videos and photos

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Latest updates featuring Alamaya

Celebrating Ten Years of Umani Springs

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The healing herd - Umani Springs

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The Green Utopia of Kibwezi Forest

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Alamaya's latest photos

Alamaya enjoying some morning pellets

Alamaya arriving in the morning

Alamaya enjoying some morning lucerne

Alamaya arriving with Maktao

Alamaya and Amali looking for salt

Alamaya browsing in the grass

Alamaya enjoying a scratch

Alamaya left, browsing with Kiasa