Mpala's Story

Ranch workers on Mpala Ranch, a 54,000 acre Ranch on the Laikipia Plateau, stumbled on a decomposing body of a female elephant, the tusks intact, but what they did not know, was that somewhere in the arid scrub bush that dominates the vegetation of the Ranch, was her 6 month old orphaned calf, grieving and lonely, who faced certain death from starvation without having access to milk. No elephant less than 2 years of age can survive without milk.

Mpala's Story

On the morning of 31st May 2002, this orphaned baby elephant came voluntarily to the Nepeleon Cattle enclosure in the North of the Ranch, close the Narok River, some two weeks after the death of his mother. He trailed the cattle herder, desperate for companionship and company, emaciated and growing weaker by the day. Although at 6 months he could eat a little vegetation, he needed milk in order to survive, and perhaps it was the smell of milk that had attracted him to this place and that man. However, it was not the cattle that he followed, it was the herdsmen himself, and this in itself is strange, since he must know that humans had cost his mother her life.

At first the herdsman found this somewhat disconcerting, fearing that an irate elephant mother might suddenly appear at any moment to reclaim her baby. He did everything he could to deter the calf, but the calf persisted in trailing him. Eventually, in desperation, he reported the matter to his boss, Ken Wreford Smith, who immediately called us in Nairobi, and alerted us to expect another elephant orphan.
After a long five hour drive, in the back of a Pickup truck hurriedly improvised to contain him for the journey, with Quentin, a young Veterinarian, as company in the back, they arrived at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust at 7.30 pm. His protruding cheek bones were a tell tale sign of a baby in desperate need of nourishment, but he was a feisty little chap, and was able to shove the Keepers around in the stable on his first night. He settled in nicely with Thoma keeping a watchful eye over his every move.
Mpala was eventually moved to the Voi Unit in Tsavo East with Seraa and Morani in June 2003, and now lives a wild life there.

Adopt Mpala for yourself or as a gift.

Adopt Mpala for yourself or as a gift.

Current Age

22 years old



Rescued date

31 May 2002

Rescue Location

Laikipia, Mpala Ranch

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 December 2001

Reason Orphaned


Age at Rescue

5 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Mpala'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 Mpala the gift of life by adopting today.

Latest updates featuring Mpala

Help for a male lion in Laikipia

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The Independent Big Boy's Interaction with the Voi Keeper Dependent Juniors

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Mpala's latest photos

Mpala stroking Edie's calf with Eve at the front

Siria left and Shimba right greet Mpala

Mpala left with the second wild group

Mpala and Icholta corner Siria

Mpala riding onto Siria's back

Mpala sniffing

Mpala scratching

Mpala scratching at the stockade