Kiasa's Story

This story began with Neville Sheldrick on a routine patrol flight in one of the Trust’s planes, heading to the Southern sector of Tsavo East National Park from the DSWT Kaluku headquarters. While en route, in an area known as the triangle towards the Tsavo and Athi River junction, he noticed a tiny elephant calf escorted by two big bull elephants. He flew the area scouring for evidence of elephant herds but sighted no other elephants in the area.

Kiasa's Story

A few days earlier while on an aerial patrol he had reported the sighting of a dead female who had succumbed to the effects of drought not far from this very same location. Concerned that something was not quite right with this picture, he reported the matter to both the Kenya Wildlife Service and also to the DSWT Kaluku operations room so that DSWT pilot Andy Payne could fly in the helicopter to take a closer look and confirm that he was accurate in his assessment of the situation. GPS coordinates of the location of the two bulls and baby were shared while Neville continued on to complete his patrol in the south where the drought had really taken hold, with numerous elephants dying as a result of a lack of food due to failed rains. It was confirmed that they were indeed two bull elephants with a tiny baby and that there were no females or other elephants in the area. Neville coordinated with KWS Veterinary Officer Dr. Jeremiah Poghon working with the DSWT funded Mobile Veterinary Unit based in Tsavo, to be flown to the closest airstrip which was in fact on the north bank of the Galana River. The Trust’s Mtito Desnaring team which works together with KWS was directed to the location as well.

Without mother’s milk this calf would most certainly die, as she was estimated to be anywhere from five to eight months old. The fact that so many elephants had succumbed to the effects of drought this year, and the location of the recently discovered carcass of a dead female, left little doubt that she was an orphan being cared for by these well-meaning gentle bulls, but sadly while they could give her the comfort and much needed protection from predators, they could not provide her with vital milk to sustain life, and conditions still remained desperately dry.

KWS Vet Dr. Poghon was collected by Neville and flown from the Voi headquarters to the closest airstrip, this was however quite a distance from where the trio of elephants were on the southern bank. On arrival they were met by Andy in the helicopter and flown to where the Mtito Team with their vehicle waited for guidance from the air. Dr. Poghon agreed that without a rescue this young baby would not survive, but first flew around to confirm once again that there were no other elephants within the area.

Given the open terrain it was not difficult to gently separate the bulls from the baby with the helicopter so that our ground team could drive up to the baby and capture her safely. She was still strong, but little time was wasted while they prepared the stretcher and tied her legs so that she could be safely loaded into the helicopter and flown directly to the Trust’s Nairobi Nursery. With the back seats removed there was ample space for the calf and a team member to sit in the back of the aircraft offering her comfort throughout the one hour flight.

The helicopter was able to land at the Nursery and the keepers were on hand to quickly offload the little calf and while still on the stretcher, carry her to a prepared stable. She was desperately thirsty and gulped down fluids, both water and milk and even slept, seemingly exhausted from her ordeal. We placed her in a stable next to Maktao so in the evening when the others returned for the night she had elephant company and interaction that she found reassuring.
The very next day she was out in the company of the other orphans and while they showed great interest in the new arrival she remained aloof and distant, and this is something we often see with orphans of this age, who miss their lost elephant family and grieve for such a long time, so while they mix with the others they choose to remain separated due to sadness and mourning. It is the human family that are so important during this time as well, providing the attention and love and the gentle tactile care that baby elephants crave so much, so it is no surprise that Kiasa has become completely hooked on her Keepers. Maktao, the other baby in our midst who is hooked on the Keepers too, can at times get possessive and jealous, but Kiasa is no push over, and despite his spirited disapproval she ignores him and stands her ground.

For weeks she would try to return to the stockades during the day, sneaking away from the group to do so, but over the months she has settled into the routine, with Tagwa paying her close and special attention.

Physically Kiasa has thrived in our care, growing fat and strong, and we are happy to report even her emotional scars are healing fast and she is now interacting with the group more comfortably and playing exuberantly in the midday mud bath, often choosing to spray the midday visitors with mud for fun!

Adopt Kiasa for yourself or as a gift for a loved one.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust 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 Kiasa for yourself or as a gift for a loved one.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust 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

2 years old



Rescued date

30 October 2017

Rescue Location

Amboseli Ecosystem, Amboseli Environs

Date of Birth (approximate)

15 April 2017

Reason Orphaned

Drought related

Age at Rescue

6 months old (approx)

Current Location

Nairobi Nursery

Kiasa'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 Kiasa the gift of life by adopting today.

Latest updates featuring Kiasa

Updates: The Rescue of Kiasa

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Kiasa's Latest Photos

Tagwa and Kiasa browsing on some fresh grass.

Kiasa and Sattao enjoying each others company while browsing.

Tamiyoi Kiombo and Kiasa

Kiasa eyeing the milk wheelbarrow

Kiasa getting a turn at the water trough

Kiasa after 9am feed

Kiasa follows Nabulu after mud-bath

Kiasa drinking water