During the late evening of Saturday 27th June, a yearling female calf was found all alone by our De-Snaring team near the Mombasa Pipeline opposite the Ndara plains in Tsavo East National Park. There were no wild elephant herds in sight, and since there were also a lot of lions in the area, our Voi Elephant Keepers were alerted that a rescue was imminently needed to save the life of this calf who probably would not survive another night out alone. Baby elephants definitely cannot survive without milk if orphaned under 3 years of age, and few manage to survive even when orphaned between 3 and 5 years of age. Whilst wild living elephants will usually accept and protect an orphaned baby to the best of their ability, once the orphan weakens as a result of milk deprivation, and begins to jeopardize the survival of the herd, the Matriarch has to make the decision to abandon it to its fate in the interests of all the others under her leadership. There are very few, if any, elephants that will have to lactating capacity to nurture an orphan as well as their own calf, especially during a tough dry spell, and calves at foot themselves are extremely possessive of their mother’s milk bar, and will go to great lengths to prevent another from usurping what they view as their prerogative.
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.
12 years old
25 June 2009
Tsavo Ecosystem, Tsavo East NP
Date of Birth (approximate)
3 July 2008
Age at Rescue
11 months old (approx)
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Monthly water colour by Angela Sheldrick.
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Melia with the orphans
Melia and a wild bull
Melia & the younger orphans in the early morning
Melia sitting on the dust pile
Melia playing with some grass.