On the morning of the 15th December, an alert came from Ian Craig of Lewa Downs that there was an infant orphan in Samburu National Reserve. Immediately a rescue was scrambled, the plane left, and when it was 15 minutes out of Nairobi, we received another phone call from Ian Douglas-Hamilton of Save The Elephants Foundation to the effect that they would like to try and return the calf to its rightful owner - the mother. We recalled the plane and awaited news of the success or otherwise of this exercise, having warned Ian that although we had been successful returning a baby to its mother in Amboseli on two occasions, the lesson of little Seraa prompted caution with the Laikipia population, who have been subjected to a great deal of poaching and human harassment. Iain Craig had told us that gunshots had been heard in Samburu the previous night, and we suspected that this could have caused the calf to be either separated from the herd and abandoned, or orphaned.He had a nasty gash in his cheek, which the Rangers thought might be as a result of an attack from a leopard before being rescued at 5.30 a.m. after he was heard screaming near the Ranger Quarters. However, upon closer inspection of the wound, it is obviously caused by a blunt object, and we suspect as a result of being tusked, probably when the herd panicked. His name is "Tomboi" which, in the Samburu dialect means "Boy without a Father". His mother's name is Temperome, his aunt known as Chastity and he apparently belongs to the family known as the Virtues.(Endurume was his Virtue name).
16 years old
15 December 2002
Samburu, Samburu National Reserve
Date of Birth (approximate)
10 December 2002
Panic separation / stampede
Age at Rescue
0 weeks old (approx)
Personalised adoption certificate.
Monthly email update on your orphan and the project.
Monthly water colour by Angela Sheldrick.
Access to special content; latest Keepers' Diaries, videos and photos
Tomboi having Lucerne with the babies
Tomboi enjoying Lucerne with the orphans
Tomboi being treated
Tomboi drinking with the orphans
Tomboi pushing Chaimu away
Tomboi at the stockades
Tomboi comes for a visit
Tomboi with Lucerne on his head