Sadly Shujaa passed away on November 8th, 2013. He shall forever remain in our hearts

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Shujaa's Story

On the 25th September the plight of an abandoned tiny baby elephant near Mackinnon Road beyond Buchuma gate Tsavo East National Park, was reported by the senior warden of Tsavo East National Park to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The calf apparently was walking alone along the Mombasa highway, striding up to enormous trucks parked on the side of the highway, taking comfort in their mighty shadow much to the surprise of the startled truck drivers. This tiny calf, too young to know fear, courageously walked in between vehicles, curious onlookers, building and structures desperately seeking something that felt like mum. Thankfully those that first sighted the calf meant him no harm.

Shujaa's Story

Our team left from the Voi rehabilitation unit for the 1 ½ our drive to where the calf was reported to be, arriving at the scene around about 6.30pm. There they found him, approximately a few weeks old, but still in remarkably good condition. He had by this stage been transported to the safety of Buchuma gate by KWS, as with night falling he was clearly vulnerable to passing traffic. He was following anyone and everyone. Still pink behind the ears this gorgeous little perfect baby was carefully wrapped and prepared for the car journey back to the stockades at Voi but not before he was fed milk and rehydration salts. The fate of his mother has never been confirmed, but it is suspected to be due to human wildlife conflict as the elephants of Tsavo are often in the neighbouring ranch lands adjacent to the giant Tsavo National Park.

In the night they journeyed back to the DSWT Voi rehabilitation station. On arrival at Voi he was kept safely overnight in the taming stockades separate from the older Voi orphans who would have overwhelmed the tiny baby with their exuberance. He could sense the other elephants though, Mudanda and Mbirikani were his immediate neighbours – and with a blanket hung for comfort and a Keeper sleeping in the taming stockade with him he spent the night at the DSWT Voi Unit.

The next morning Angela arranged for a rescue plane and team to head to Tsavo East’s Voi headquarters so the baby could be brought safely back to the DSWT Nursery situated in Nairobi National Park. Unbelievably while still in the air, and before the team had landed in Voi, reports of a second rescued tiny calf came in. This time a baby was reported trapped and bogged in mud on the Mzima Springs Pipeline just beyond Voi Safari Lodge. Again our Voi Keepers were called to the scene to rescue the baby. No elephants were seen in the area, so any possibility of returning him to his mother was ruled out. He appeared totally exhausted, obviously having struggled in the mud throughout the night. Luckily no predators had been able to reach him either because of the boggy black cotton.

Both calves were kept at the Voi Stockades until the aircraft arrived. You can imagine the surprise when our rescue team on landing was informed that it was not one tiny infant elephant calf they were rescuing and travelling back to Nairobi with, but two! Thankfully both were tiny enough to fit in to the one aircraft. The team first headed up to the stockades to meet the babies and prepare them there for the flight, each on their own separate mattresses. Once at the aircraft they were carefully laid head to head in the back of the Cessna Caravan rescue plane. The Keepers ensured they both were placed on a drip for the duration of the journey, just to manage their dehydration. Having arrived expecting one miniature baby and been confronted with two they certainly now had their hands full!

During the flight the attendant keepers kept a watchful eye on them both, and kept them comforted throughout the 1 hour and 20 minute flight. On arrival at Wilson Airport in Nairobi these two tiny pocket elephants caused quite a stir, not just with the immediate airport ground staff, but as word got around the airfield many people poured out of aircraft hangers and offices to view not one by two tiny baby elephants.

Placed carefully in the back of the pickup they were driven safely to the Nursery, still attracting enormous attention from every hawker and pedestrian along their route, as with Nairobi’s traffic jams due to the ongoing road works progress can be painfully slow. They entered the Nairobi National Park at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters entrance and drove straight to the Trust’s Nairobi headquarters. Once off loaded the tiny duo were each placed in separate but adjoining stables before receiving another feed. They had comfort blankets tied up in their stables so that their tiny trunks could rest upon these, feeling like Mum and a comforting big presence by their side. This made them settle, and they both fed well. It wasn’t long before they lay down in the comfort of soft hay, with their heads on a mattress, for a long sleep, both exhausted by their individual ordeals.

In the wake of the Westgate Mall attack everyone in Kenya was still reeling from events – and the Trust’s Elephant Keepers wanted to give both these baby elephants names that had a symbolic meaning for Kenyans. The little baby rescued from the Mombasa highway was called Shujaa – the Swahili word for hero - and the baby mud victim was called Mshindi – the Swahili word for winner. Both babies having tragically lost their elephant families, were immediately embraced by a new family, both two legged and four here at the Nursery. Everyone was eager no longer concentrate on the horrors that had happened a few days previously and were more than ready to focus all their attentions on saving these precious lives, doing something that made sense in this crazy world.

It was not long before they met precious Kamok, the youngest baby in the Nursery – who for the first few hours appeared totally disinterested in the Nursery newcomers. Shujaa, a little male calf estimated to be approximately a few weeks old loves Kamok and his other little friends, loves his Keepers, his comfort blanket and is happy to frolic around in the red earth for hours at a time. Thankfully Shujaa came to us too young to really remember his elephant family, so has adapted seamlessly into his new life.

Date of Passing

8 November 2013



Rescued date

29 September 2013

Rescue Location


Date of Birth (approximate)

29 August 2013

Reason Orphaned


Age at Rescue

1 month old (approx)

Passed away

08 November 2013

Shujaa's Archival Updates

The loss of Shujaa

Read more

Shujaa's Archival Photos

Shujaa plays with a blanket


Bahati and Shujaa

Kamok and Shujaa

Shujaa rolls in the dust

Shujaa and Mshindi