Galana's Story

It always happens on a Sunday! During the morning of Sunday 15th August, a phone call from our De-Snaring Team Leader in Voi alerted us to the fact that a young female elephant had been rescued near the Galana river, about 10 miles from the Sala Gate on the Eastern boundary of Tsavo National Park. She was approximately 1 year old, and had been found all alone in a patch of thick salt-bush bordering the river by some visitors, who happened to spot a small foot poking out.They surrounded her and comforted her, whilst our De-Snaring Team Leader made the phone call to Nairobi, advising us that the elephant was fragile and weak and should be air-lifted to the Nairobi Nursery, being still milk dependent and orphaned at a difficult age.

Galana's Story

A plane was hurriedly scrambled in Nairobi aboard which were all the necessities for an air rescue; three men, the milk, and the circular carrying tarpaulin, headed for Voi, to where the larger Caravan aircraft (on another charter) would be diverted on its return journey to meet them and bring the elephant back to Nairobi. The new orphan arrived in the Nursery at 3 p.m., again without having to be sedated for the flight but instead manually restrained with legs tied.

Before boarding the plane in Voi, she had taken the milk and rehydration that the rescue plane had brought. Once up on her feet in one of the rhino Stockades at the Nursery, previously occupied by Napasha, she immediately began feeding on greens in between bouts of aggression directed at the humans. However, it was milk she needed most, and this she took eagerly, before charging again at the Keeper, who had to be careful to try and keep from being pinned against the wall.

The calf did not appear to be in a critical condition of emaciation, but had obviously been without a mother for sometime. She was obviously thin, her skin parched rather than supple and cheekbones prominent - always a tell-tale indication of poor physical condition. We estimated the age at about 14 months, since she had no tusks, but was a large calf – about the size of Selengai, and taller than the other four Nursery inmates. We named her “Galana”. There was no news of what became of her mother and her elephant family. She owes her life to the kind visitors that found her, and took the trouble to report her plight to the authorities.
Having spent the first night in the Nursery, the next morning she was too weak to stand and had to be heaved to her feet by the Keepers, who supported her in a standing position whilst Daphne shoveled several handfuls of Glucolin into her mouth to try and generate some strength. Eagerly she accepted this, and then downed another 3 litres of milk whilst the other Nursery elephants crowded around her to show her that she was not alone, and to give her the will to live. This had the usual magical result, and immediately her eyes took on an expression of interest whilst her strength visibly improved. All the Nursery inmates greeted her gently, touching her with their trunks, eager to inspect and smell her – all except Sunyei, who seemed a little “put out” by the presence of a larger female and chose to ignore her presence, standing with her behind pointed towards the newcomer! Madiba and Naserian were the most affectionate, whilst Ndomot had just one thought in his head, and that was to have his trunk glued to his Keeper!
Meanwhile Daphne had called in Dieter Rottcher, our Veterinarian, who was surprised to find the invalid sufficiently strong enough to shove the Keeper around in between dreamingly suckling a hand. She was given a steroid and Vitamin B injection, having already had a long acting antibiotic jab in Voi.
On the second morning, once again she had to be helped to her feet, and again enjoyed the company of the other orphans for half an hour in the morning, after the mud bath and in the evening. She fed well, but was still “pushy” towards her Keepers, although very relaxed and quiet when the other elephants were with her. The third morning found her strong enough to get to her feet unaided, and on the fourth morning she was out and about with all the others, happily in among our little herd of Nursery inmates as they went out into the bush. However, we did not risk taking her to the mud bath for fear that the sight of so many visitors might unsettle her again, after what for her, had been a fairly traumatic rescue. It was, however, advisable to avoid sedation on a rescue where the calf is obviously emaciated and weak for baby elephants are essentially very fragile, even when in good health.

Galana promised to be a loving and caring little Mini Matriarch of our Nursery elephants, replacing the role that was held by Sunyei simply because she was older.

Galana did so well in the Nursery and in 2005 was moved to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Unit. We are privileged today to still see her every now and then around Ithumba, and she is a member of Yatta and Wendi's ex-orphan herd.

Adopt Galana for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Galana for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

21 years old



Rescued date

15 August 2004

Rescue Location

Tsavo Ecosystem, Tsavo East NP

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 April 2003

Reason Orphaned

Natural causes

Age at Rescue

16 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Galana'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 Galana the gift of life by adopting today.

Galana's Calves

Meet Galana's wild born offspring.



Ex-orphan Galana became a mother for the first time at 13-years-old when little Gawa was born. As a very tiny calf, Head Keeper Benjamin couldn`t quite figure out what was sheltering under Galana`s belly until they came closer. Just hours old, Gawa was still wobbly on her feet and pink behind the ears when first introduced to the Keepers! Read more



On Easter Sunday, 31st March 2024, Galana and her fellow ex-orphans arrived at the Ithumba stockades with a very special addition in tow: Galana's new baby, a lovely little female who we have named Gala. She is strong, plump, and energetic, with bright eyes and an inquisitive nature. Read more

Latest updates featuring Galana

Daring Mission to Move a Dangerous Crocodile

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Loijuk's New Baby, Lisha

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Galana’s New Baby, Gala

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Galana's latest photos

Galana with Gala

Galana and Gawa

Galana, Sunyei and Lulu

Galana and Neshashi

Galana with a wild bull

Ndiwa and Galana arriving in the evening

Galana and Gawa having lucerne

Galana and Gawa enjoying Lucerne with the orphans