Choka's Story

It might seem contradictory for such a magnificent creature, but elephants struggle the most during the dry season. This is nature’s equilibrium at work: As an apex species, elephants would have few threats to their survival in an ideal world. To balance the scales, nature made them fragile. Elephants have inefficient digestive systems and require great quantities of vegetation to sustain themselves. Scarcity of food has lethal implications, so during drought conditions, they are on a constant quest for life-sustaining browse. It is usually the very young or the very old who fall first, but no elephant is safe from the drought. Such was sadly the case for Choka’s mother.

Choka's Story

It might seem contradictory for such a magnificent creature, but elephants struggle the most during the dry season. This is nature’s equilibrium at work: As an apex species, elephants would have few threats to their survival in an ideal world. To balance the scales, nature made them fragile. Elephants have inefficient digestive systems and require great quantities of vegetation to sustain themselves. Scarcity of food has lethal implications, so during drought conditions, they are on a constant quest for life-sustaining browse. It is usually the very young or the very old who fall first, but no elephant is safe from the drought. Such was sadly the case for Choka’s mother.

On 8th November, tourists reported a calf standing vigil beside his dead mother. He was located on the Ndara Plains, which was experiencing the worst of Tsavo’s extended dry season. Knowing there wasn’t a minute to spare if we were going to save his life, we hastily assembled a rescue. While the SWT helicopter flew to the scene, a team of Keepers from our Voi Reintegration Unit rushed to the calf’s side.

Our Keepers were met with a heartbreaking sight: Dwarfed by the drought-stricken plains, the skeletal calf was huddled by his fallen mother. We mourn the loss of any elephant, but it is especially heartbreaking to see a young family torn apart. The mother must have hung on for as long as she could, but the dry season had proven too much for her to overcome. Based on the calf’s withered condition, her milk bar had depleted in the days and weeks leading up to her death.

Dusk was falling, so we brought the baby directly to our nearby Voi Unit, where he was tucked into a cosy stable and given much-needed drips and milk. The older orphans were intrigued and delighted to have such a tiny guest spending the night! Bright and early the next morning, we loaded our precious cargo onto the SWT Caravan and flew him to Nairobi.

Only once he was at the Nursery did we appreciate how small Choka was — in fact, he dethroned Kerrio as the smallest member of the herd! As is often the case with starvation victims, worms had taken hold. This can be a death sentence for an infant elephant, so we had to tread carefully. However, Choka helped us by fighting to survive. Despite witnessing the tragedy of his mother’s demise, he still had a fierce will to live. He fed well, drank well, and determinedly forged ahead. 

Choka's name means "exhausted” in Swahili. He was rescued at a challenging time, as many elephants succumbed to desperately dry conditions. It feels all the more special that this lion-hearted little calf beat the odds and is so full of life today. Despite the personal loss he suffered, Choka has embraced his new family with gusto and can always be found at the heart of the Nursery herd.

Adopt Choka for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for considering an adoption. Each orphan needs more than one foster parent: your adoption donation will be processed by the SWT UK and Kenya to help all the orphans in our care.

Adopt Choka for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for considering an adoption. Each orphan needs more than one foster parent: your adoption donation will be processed by the SWT UK and Kenya to help all the orphans in our care.

Current Age

2 years old

Gender

Male

Rescued date

8 November 2021

Rescue Location

Tsavo Ecosystem, Tsavo East National Park

Date of Birth (approximate)

2 November 2020

Reason Orphaned

Drought related

Age at Rescue

12 months old (approx)

Current Location

Nairobi Nursery

Choka'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

Give Choka the gift of life by adopting today.

Latest updates featuring Choka

Farewell to Lorigon

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The Loss of Barnoti

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The Rescue of Choka

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Choka's latest photos

Choka and Lodo

Taabu playing with Choka

Choka

Choka playing with Latika

Choka

Kindani and Choka down at the mud bath

Choka loving his mud bath

Choka and Esoit playing in the mud