Buchuma's Story

On the 28th September, whilst on the way to inspect the Aruba borehole with the Mobile Veterinary Unit, an alert came of an orphaned elephant from the Rangers at the Buchuma Entrance Gate to Tsavo East on the Mombasa road. We immediately drove there and discovered that the calf had fallen into a Pipeline Manhole comprised of two compartments, each about 4 ft x 31/2 ft and 4 ½ ft. deep, covered by a single concrete slab. The tanks could be accessed through an opening of about 2 sq. ft., one holding water, and the other just oozing water. Fortunately, the calf was trapped in the drier compartment, otherwise it would have drowned having been trapped head downwards. The calf was small - only about 4 – 6 months old, so Nairobi was alerted, and a rescue team consisting of Keepers and De-Snarers was mobilized from Voi.

Buchuma's Story

The task of extracting the calf was tricky, since it was difficult to secure the rope around the girth, the calf having to be pulled into an upright position in order to fit through the opening. Finally, this was accomplished, and the head and forelegs came first. Once freed, it was seen that the baby was a bull, and having been secured with ropes, he was given milk, which he eagerly accepted, followed by an anti-biotic injection.
The baby was loaded onto a Pickup and taken to Buchuma Airfield to await the arrival of the Rescue Plane. A small plane brought the Nairobi Keepers, Rescue Tarpaulin etc., whilst the Grand Caravan flew direct from Lewa Downs to collect the calf. He was back at the Nairobi Nursery at about 6.30 p.m. Apart from massive bruising, and some swelling on his back, he was in good condition, though severely traumatised. He was housed in the stable next door to Madiba, and spent the night frantically trying to climb out, in between pushing the Keepers around, unable to settle or sleep. (Nor did Madiba, who was not only so distressed by the discomfort of his new neighbour that he couldn’t sleep a wink, but also suffered a bout of diarrheoa!)

We named the new baby “Buchuma” to reflect his origin, and although very bruised and sore, he took his milk eagerly and was in pretty good physical shape. By the next morning he was no longer aggressive towards the Keepers and sufficiently settled to be allowed out with the others. There was great excitement when the others were let out of their Night Quarters. Immediately they practiced their newly acquired trumpets by first chasing their baby warthog friends around, and then hurried to greet the newcomer, who looked decidedly bewildered to find himself suddenly in amongst others of his kind and size! Since he seemed so happy to be among them, and quiet enough to be trusted around humans, and having been a totally wild elephant just 12 hours earlier, amazingly he was out and about with the other Nursery babies the very next morning. He spent the morning with them, doing little sorties out on his own into the bush searching for his lost mother, but returning to the group in between while. During the mud bath hour, he was returned to the stable, hoping that he would sleep, but again he immediately became extremely disturbed, trying to climb the walls, and threatening to fall over backwards, so we moved him to the Stockade next door to that occupied at night by Galana. There, able to see out, and in a much larger space, he was much calmer and after another antibiotic injection, plus anti-inflammatory and Vitamin B, and with the help of homeopathic Ignatia, Camomile and Rescue Remedy, when nightfall came, he finally fell asleep (and so did Madiba!) Both had a good night! Obviously, being enclosed in a stable held very bad connotations for little Buchuma, probably reminding him of being trapped in the Pipeline manhole, so he spent his nights next door to Galana and soon settled to become the sixth member of the Nursery group. Following the death of two babies, who arrived so mutilated that we were unable to save them, it was good to have one whose prospects for survival were so hopeful.

Today Buchuma is a healthy wild bull living free in the wilds of Tsavo, having been successfully reintegrated from the Ithumba Stockades, choosing to visit every now and then with the female ex-orphans when he is in the area.

Adopt Buchuma for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Buchuma for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

21 years old



Rescued date

28 September 2003

Rescue Location

Tsavo Ecosystem, Tsavo East NP

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 May 2003

Reason Orphaned

Man-made cause for separation

Age at Rescue

4 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Buchuma'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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