Morani's Story

The 8th April 2003, and another phone call early in the morning, this time from Lewa Downs in Northern Kenya with news that there was another orphan of about 18 months old, which had come onto the Ranch through the gap in their ring fence with a wild herd, but obviously did not belong. They had been keeping an eye on it for the past four days, and although it was sometimes with the other elephants, it kept leaving the herd to wander alone.

Morani's Story

Rescue arrangements were hurriedly scrambled. This time the services of a Vet would definitely be needed to sedate such a large calf for an air rescue, as would a larger than usual aircraft and as usual, faithful Mike Seton responded positively and promptly, as did K.W.S. with a Vet. On board the rescue plane along with the Dr. Lekolooc, the Vet, was our Administrative Assistant, Emma Ayton, and two of our most capable elephant Keepers, plus all the rescue paraphernalia - the Rescue tarpaulin with rope handles all round so that some 10 men could lift a recumbent elephant that size, plus rehydrants and milk for a dehydrated and hungry baby.
The orphan was about 15 minutes drive from the Airstrip at Lewa Downs, about l km from a wild group of fifteen. The rescue party parked about 50 metres from him, and then the Vet, one Keeper, Emma and the Lewa Operations Manager approached the calf on foot, managing to get within 15 metres using a bush as cover, before the elephant realized that dreaded humans were closing in on him. He charged, and the Vet was able to dart him, following which, he ran into hiding in another bush.
Soon the elephant was down and the Rescue Team were able to approach. It now became apparent that he had multiple gunshot wounds, two just below the spine, which had obviously gone right through, and another in the foreleg. Blood was also oozing from one nostril, so he was very obviously not in good shape. His wounds were cleaned as much as possible whilst he slept, and a long acting antibiotic injection administered, before he was loaded, first into the waiting vehicle and then onto the plane.

During the flight, he showed signs of coming round, so had to be given more sedation. The Vet very wisely kept him barely under, because anything more could have plunged him into eternal sleep. He arrived at our Nursery just after 2 p.m., and having been laid in one of the Rhino Stockades, (a Nursery Stable being too small), he was given the antidote to wake up.

It was distressing to watch him coming round, because he kept falling over, crashing against the walls, and staggering around as though drunk. But as he recovered more fully, and found himself amongst what he dreaded most, having obviously been a witness to the slaughter of his mother, and himself having been wounded by gunfire, he was bent on killing everyone in sight. Time and again he thundered against the metal doors, until one of the posts gave way, and he was out, and running for his life into the Nairobi Park forest!

There he found himself with other elephants - the orphans - the tiny newborn newcomer "Selengai", 3 month old "Tomboi", 4 month old "Wendi", Mpala of his size, and the mini Matriarch, "Seraa". They and their Keepers encircled him, desperately trying to comfort him, and since the mini herd he had found were obviously comfortable with their human attendants, he took a cue from them, and visibly calmed down. By this time the Vet had been recalled, and after a small dose of sedation, with everyone pushing, he was able to be guided back into his quarters, and everyone heaved a sigh of relief! Whilst still groggy from the drug, we were able to syringe out the many holes in his mutilated body, using the magic homeopathic Calendular that succeeded in healing an enormous hole in the back of our little Ndara down in Voi. But, as he recovered, so his fear and anger returned, and time and again he hurled himself against the gate, bent on escape.

During the night, he slept for just two hours, and the two Keepers with him, not at all! The next morning the other elephants came to greet him through the bars of the door, and again he became much calmer, even taking the hand of the Keeper into his mouth, and sucking it hungrily. Unbelievably he grew calmer and calmer as the day progressed, began to feed himself milk by wrapping his truck around his bottle and tipping it upright gulping down his milk, and has already grown attached to his Keepers. Interestingly when the KWS guard with his rifle slung over his shoulder arrived at the stockade to have a look at the latest arrival Morani went mad. It is obvious he recognised the threat a man with a gun posed, reliving the horrors of the past days.
Quiet talking, gentle encouragement, friendly touching on the forehead every time he charged the door, and water offered from a bucket, all helped worked the miracle, and just 14 hours after capture, this orphan began to take some milk from a bottle. He still had a long road to recovery. Blood still oozes from one nostril, the bullet wounds were infected and he was veryu thin and dehydrated. We were not even sure if he still had bullets embedded in his body. He had been through hell; the hell of losing that which is most important in a baby's life - his mother and elephant family, and having been traumatized and wounded himself, probably as he tried to defend the body of his fallen mother. Since he came from Samburu tribal land, and because he truly was such a little "Warrior", he was named "Morani".

These days he is an adult bull sometimes spotted with Emily's ex orphan herd in Tsavo East National Park, and sometimes with other bulls like Laikipia and Lolokwe.

Adopt Morani for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Morani for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

22 years old



Rescued date

8 April 2003

Rescue Location

Meru Region, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 November 2001

Reason Orphaned


Age at Rescue

17 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Morani'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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Morani's latest photos

Morani joins the orphans early morning

Mbirikani and Bada stay close to Morani

Morani reaching for greener branches

Morani close to Seraa

Morani joins Lesanju's herd to drink water

Morani scratching

Eve playing a wrestling match with Morani

Morani, Irima and Mweya standing asleep