Naserian's Story

12th May 2004, in the late afternoon, we received a message from Save the Elephants in Samburu National Reserve alerting us to the fact that what was obviously an orphaned elephant calf had been seen trailing some wild herds, and suffering continuous rejection by them. The calf was estimated to be between 4 and 6 months old and, we were told, was in the process of being captured. It had been seen trying to cross the Uaso Nyiro river along with wild elephants, but was constantly pushed under water by one herd member.When the rescue plane landed in Samburu, the calf had not yet been able to be captured and was still trailing wild herds, of which there were many in the area. Furthermore, another BBC Film crew had been filming the rejection of this orphan by the wild elephants, (something that puzzles us about the Samburu elephants since those of Tsavo seem bent on actually hijacking rather than rejecting calves, as is illustrated by the story of orphan “Irima”! ) Following frantic phone negotiations with the Charter Company, it was agreed that the plane and the Rescue Team could overnight in Samburu as best they could, and now that a Vet was in-situ, an attempt would be made to capture the calf during the night. It was feared that were it left overnight, it may not survive the hyenas.

Naserian's Story

The actual rescue was dramatic and traumatic. There was much confusion with vehicles and blazing headlamps trying to focus on the target, people rushing hither and thither, and excited elephants dashing about in the dark, with much trumpeting and screaming. A huge bull appeared out of the shadows in response to the distressed bellows of the calf as it was being overpowered and loaded into the back of the truck, which just managed to make a get-away in time. However, the KWS Vet and our team were, apparently, very professional and the sedated calf was spirited away to safety.

The calf was a female, roughly 6 months of age, and still strong. She was incarcerated in a small office overnight, with our three Keepers. She took rehydration salts and milk, and was given Arnica for stress, but it was a far from comfortable night for the Keepers, who were buffeted around and got no sleep at all. They thought the calf had been without a mother for about a week, since the cheekbone beneath the eye was beginning to become prominent through loss of condition.

Those of us back at base likewise spent a restless night, wondering how things were going in far-away Samburu National Reserve. First thing in the morning, the news came that they had the calf, and the plane would be arriving at Wilson Airport in Nairobi at 8.15 a.m. Unsure about the actual size of the new arrival, both a Stockade, and a Stable were prepared, and at 9 a.m. the vehicle carrying the sedated calf drew in. Lying on the rescue tarpaulin she was already coming round, and we decided to put her in Tomboi’s night stable, which is next door to that of Wendi. Traumatised and still “wild”, it took two Keepers all their time to try and restrain the baby, who was trying to climb and break out, but she took more milk and water, and gradually Keeper Julius and Stephen worked their magic. Having consulted our Samburu Keepers, it was decided that the calf be called “Naserian”, which is a girl child’s name in Samburu, meaning “the lucky one”.

After the noon mud bath, the other Nursery elephants came to meet her, extending their trunks through the separating partition of the next door stable. She was overjoyed to see them, and they her. Selengai and Wendi were especially attentive, and following this introduction, little Naserian, who is slightly taller than Sunyei, visibly settled down, and having been given homeopathic remedies for trauma and stress, slept fitfully. Amazingly, by nightfall this totally wild elephant was sucking the fingers of her Keepers, taking milk eagerly from a bottle, and even enjoying the company of her human Attendants, much to the amazement of the film crew. That night she slept soundly, with her little trunk reaching through the separation to touch Wendi next door. And, first thing in the morning, she was out and about with the others, all documented for “Elephant Diaries” – truly the same mini miracle we have witnessed many times before with orphans who have had the input of other elephants! Any bystander would not have been able to tell which elephant was the newcomer who had arrived just a day ago. Napasha was particularly caring of her, comforting her, touching her gently, and making sure that she felt loved. Ndomot didn’t want to share Wendi with the stranger, and tried to block Wendi whenever she tried to get near the new calf. Sunyei took over, and little Naserian was taken into the mini Nursery herd, taking the cue from them, even hurrying to the noon mud bath, where she enjoyed a mudwallow and then joined the others in greeting the visitors.
Tomboi, is the one who had to give up his stable to the newcomer, and join Taita and Olmalo in one of the Rhino Stockade that they share. To begin with, he thought this was a novel idea, but the next night he complained loudly. After that he soon settled down.

The arrival of little Naserian brought the number of baby elephants in the Nursery to 10 at that time. In those days that was quite a full house; the most the Nursery had ever been called upon to accommodate up until then was 12.

We were glad to be able to offer Naserian another chance of life, and the special care that all of our rescued elephant orphans enjoy; the same tender loving care by their Keepers that their own elephant family would have given them, until such time as they are comfortable with the wild herds and ready to take their place where they rightly belong, back with their own kind, in a large Protected Park where they will enjoy freedom and the quality of life that is their birthright. Naserian is now enjoying such a life, as part of Yatta's ex-orphan herd at Ithumba and sometimes accompanying Galana as 'Nannie' to her first born calf, Gawa.

Adopt Naserian for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for considering an adoption. Each orphan needs more than one foster parent: your adoption donation will be processed by the SWT UK and Kenya to help all the orphans in our care.

Adopt Naserian for yourself or as a gift.

Important Note: Thank you for considering an adoption. Each orphan needs more than one foster parent: your adoption donation will be processed by the SWT UK and Kenya to help all the orphans in our care.

Current Age

20 years old



Rescued date

12 May 2004

Rescue Location

Samburu, Samburu National Reserve

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 January 2004

Reason Orphaned

Natural causes

Age at Rescue

4 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Naserian'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 Naserian the gift of life by adopting today.

Naserian's Calves

Meet Naserian's wild born offspring.



After an absence of six months, our Ithumba Keepers awoke on 28th October 2021 to find Naserian waiting by the stockades, with a healthy infant calf tucked by her side. Ex-orphans Wendi and Sunyei, and their wild-born daughters, Wema, Wiva, and Siku, rounded out the entourage. They had clearly returned to Ithumba with the express purpose of introducing us to Naserian’s newborn, who was just a few days old. We estimate she was born on 23rd October.

We have named Naserian's little girl Njema, which means 'good' in Swahili. Read more

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Naserian's latest photos

Naserian leading the orphans to the stockades

Naserian and Njema enjoying Lucerne

Naserian and Njema visit their friends

Naserian with Njema

Naserian and her group

Naserian, Njema and Olare

Naserian, Njema, Olare, and Saba at the mud bath

Sunyei, Saba, Njema and Naserian