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 Saving a life and changing attitudes - 5/13/2018
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Last week we flew into a flooded Tana Delta to rescue an orphaned baby kudu. Like so many people and animals, he’d been affected by flash floods that have occurred extensively throughout the region, in recent weeks, following unprecedented rains. For this little kudu, help was at hand in the shape of Omar Shongolo, one of DSWT’s trusted Keepers who was on leave at the time visiting his home area. Omar is a local Orma tribe resident whose home is close to the delta, and while his house and village remained safe, on this particular day he came across a young kudu struggling in flood water, exhausted as it tried to remain afloat. With his passion for wildlife and help from KWS Rangers, they embarked on a brave rescue mission to bring the kudu to safety. Once on dry land they led the tethered animal to the homestead which was situated on much higher ground. With conditions as they were releasing him wasn’t an option, and so Omar called Angela requesting assistance. It was arranged that the DSWT helicopter pilot Andy Payne head down there to collect the youngster so that the stricken baby could recover at our Kaluku Field Headquarters, in the company of rescued orphan Kudu’s Sala and Sabassa, before returning to the wild. The flooded conditions at the time made a helicopter rescue the only viable option within a waterlogged county.

Community carrying the orphan Kudu  Offloading the kudu at Kaluku

The community’s reaction to KWS’s and Omar’s act of compassion, and DSWT’s rapid response, landing the helicopter right at their boma to help despite such challenging conditions was unexpected and overwhelming. The chief on behalf of the villagers expressed his delight at our timely and committed response to Omar’s heroic rescue. This single act of kindness by Omar aided and encouraged by the KWS rangers, and witnessed by numerous villages, affirmed a deep sense of responsibility in each and every one of those present, to further take it upon themselves to nurture and protect their wildlife.

Feeding the orphan some milk on the flight  Orphan kudu in the helicopter


On this day not only was a kudu’s life saved, but a much greater symbolic message resonated, helping enhance attitudes of fellow community members who were enthralled by the experience, and felt very much a part of a collective achievement in difficult and challenging conditions. That evening Omar called to find out how the baby was  doing at Kaluku and reported the positive events that had unfolded in his village post rescue, and a week later Omar reported back to duty at our Voi relocation Unit, with news from home that the flood waters had abated due to much less rain in recent days.

Andy the DSWT Pilot and Omar the Keeper



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