Bongo's Story

Bongo's Story

Kenya. A number of rescue attempts had been made by KWS over the weeks, but the elephant would disappear deep into the forest and in those conditions proved impossible to catch.

Things became desperate when the community threatened to kill the elephant if KWS did not remove it from the area and their cultivated lands, and so the KWS/David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust funded Meru Veterinary Unit's Dr. Bernard Rono, a seconded KWS Veterinary Officer, was called to the scene.

After a lengthy wait they managed to finally locate the elephant, anesthetized him, and then loaded him onto the back of the KWS landcruiser. He was revived although remaining strapped and recumbent in the vehicle before the long journey to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nursery. This was a journey that took them close on four hours and was undertaken at night.

It had been an extremely challenging rescue, particularly given the location and the size of the elephant. The unexpected nighttime arrival of yet another elephant at the Nursery, had everybody scratching their heads as the elephant had by now been revived, so off loading him was challenging to say the least.

Between the Keepers, the KWS Rangers, and Robert Carr-Hartley, a plan was made. While the rescued elephant lay recumbent in the back of the vehicle he was injected with antibiotics and also a tranquilizer to take the edge off his aggression. With team work and enormous effort he was offloaded from the landcruiser and onto the canvas stretcher placed on the ground just behind the vehicle. He was then lifted again by as many as 15 men and carried into the stockade. His restraining straps were removed and everybody fled for their lives scrambling out of the stockade before he could get to his feet. Between the anesthetic, the journey and the tranquilizer he was slow to get to his feet, and required assistance. Three of the Trust’s elephant Keepers were brave enough to climb back into the stockade and give him a helping hand. He got to his feet and immediately started to feed on the greens placed in his stockade, and took water from the bucket placed strategically next to his stockade door. For the rest of the night we let the Nursery orphans perform their magic, communicating with him and calming him down, and did not stress him further with a constant human presence.

The following day was challenging with this large elephant, much larger than we are use to rescuing – with tusks about five inches long, although one had been broken. He was rescued not because he was unable to survive without milk, but because he would have been slaughtered had he remained there – Dr. Rono felt that his chances at a new life and family were best placed through the Nursery and the Rehabilitation Program in Tsavo rather that being transported directly to the Aberdares and released there in a new environment and with support of family and friends.

The next day, with the tranquilizer drug now worn off, he was extremely aggressive, but remained feeding well, getting through incredible amounts of vegetation that constantly had to be replenished. We gave him the name Bongo – synonymous with Mount Kenya, as well as being a very African name. As the days past Bongo learnt about milk, although old enough not to need milk, he certainly had an appetite for it. He began taking the milk from a bucket very early on, but very soon understood the milk bottle and quickly tamed down enough to take his milk from a Keeper from the bottle. His stay in the stockades has been a lengthy one, given his size we need to tame him down sufficiently so that he can be safely transported to one of our two Relocation Units in Tsavo.

Adopt Bongo for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the SWT family, it is important to note that your donation will help any orphan in need. Our orphans will need more than one adoptive parent.

Adopt Bongo for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the SWT family, it is important to note that your donation will help any orphan in need. Our orphans will need more than one adoptive parent.

Current Age

10 years old



Rescued date

17 September 2013

Rescue Location

Mount Kenya Region, Kirinyaga County

Date of Birth (approximate)

19 February 2010

Reason Orphaned

Human-Wildlife Conflict

Age at Rescue

3 years old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Bongo's featured photos

Our digital adoption programme includes the following:

Personalised adoption certificate.

Monthly email update on your orphan and the project.

Monthly water colour by Angela Sheldrick.

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

Give Bongo the gift of life by adopting today.

Latest updates featuring Bongo

Esampu, Mteto and Mundusi move to Ithumba

Read more

The Mount Kenya Mobile Veterinary Unit launches into action

Read more

Giving Wildlife a Second Chance in the Stunning Meru Wilderness

Read more

Bongo's latest photos

Bongo browsing with Nusu

Nusu and Bongo

Enkikwe sharing with Bongo

Bongo and Kainuk

Kauro, Wanjala and Bongo

Bongo with a wild elephant

Vuria Bongo and Narok

Bongo at the water trough