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Our Voi Elephant Keeper team received a call from the Kenya Wildlife Service Manyani Ranger Training Academy bordering Tsavo East National Park on the 3rd of November about the plight of a tiny elephant calf.
The ranger trainees had heard distressed baby screams throughout the night and as dawn broke they headed in the direction of the cries to investigate further what the problem could be. To their amazement they found a tiny calf stuck in a deep sided drying waterhole, unable to extract herself, with no evidence of elephants remaining in the area. The herd had obviously made the decision to abandon the calf and head to the safety of the Park Boundary well before day break. The Manyani recruits and rangers rescued the calf and kept her in a stable at the training academy while they alerted our team and waited for our Voi Keepers and milk to arrive on site. Sadly despite everyone wanting to try to reunite the calf with her elephant family neither her herd nor any elephants for that matter were located in the area so any possibility of this happening was ruled out.
Angela at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust headquarters was called and a rescue arranged to collect this tiny baby by aircraft to fly her to the Nursery where she could received the intensive care infant babies require. We have called her Ashaka, after a watercourse in Tsavo East National Park. She arrived safely in Nairobi and was immediately introduced to the other tiny babies in our care and soon settled into the fold.
Right from the outset Ashaka has been full of boundless energy. We estimated her age on arrival to be around the three week mark as she came to us still without teeth. Ashaka being so young seemed not to miss her elephant family and adapted to her new environment quickly , soon becoming totally attached to both her Keepers and her milk bottle. A hanging comfort blanket has given her endless hours of enjoyment out in the forest and in her night stable which she shares with an elephant Keeper each night, receiving milk 3 hourly 24 hours a day. She loves to wriggle her trunk around it, resting on it, and taking her milk from under it. Her stable is next to Kamok's, and she spends her days in the forest with her tiny elephant friends as we have a few babies her age at the moment.
We delayed placing Ashaka on the fostering program as we knew that being a water victim and still without her teeth there was a long road ahead before we could feel comfortable about the future for this precious pocket elephant, tiny and perfect in every way. Sure enough the dreaded teething process began a couple of weeks after her arrival, and as is always the case she lost a huge amount of condition during this time, and we took it day by day, reacting to whatever came our way. We were able to take regular blood tests to ensure no infection was present, but despite her poor condition during this time she remained with high energy levels. Thankfully her teeth burst through quickly so within a few short weeks all eight of her teeth had come through. She is now growing stronger and her little cheeks are once again filling out. Her best friend is Kamok, and these two tiny little mischievous girls are becoming quite a handful, and enchant everyone they meet and theirs will be a friendship that spans a lifetime we hope.