The rescue of Little Baby Elephant “Wanjala”

by Lara Behrens
3rd November 2016

City Stay, Conservation


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An update from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.


Wanjala's Rescue

A young elephant calf approximately 19 months old was first sighted near the Trust funded Dida Harea Windmill waterhole on the southern plains of Tsavo East National Park by the DSWT maintenance team who monitor the Trust funded windmills throughout Tsavo regularly. The calf was weak and extremely emaciated and was obviously an orphan who had been without its mother's milk for some time judging by his condition, but was accompanied by a teenage bull at the time who later ran off at the approach of the vehicle, leaving the calf alone and extremely vulnerable to predators due to his poor condition.

The maintenance team observed the calf for much of the day during which time wild elephant herds came to drink leaving the weakened calf behind who was unable to follow.  The decision was therefore made to rescue it, since it was unlikely to survive the night being so vulnerable.

The Kenya Wildlife Service Senior warden of Tsavo East was informed and he called the Trust's Voi elephant Keepers to mobilise a rescue after which the calf was duly captured with little residence due to its emaciated condition.  He was a young male and was driven to the airstrip to wait for the aircraft from Nairobi which had in the meantime been arranged; this ensured the rescue was seamless with little delay.  The rescued baby was prepared for the flight, hydrated throughout the journey and placed in a stockade at our Nairobi Nursery.

He was very weak and collapsed a number of times requiring emergency attention to retrieve him, but as the days passed he began to regain his strength.  We think the reason for his being orphaned is a result of the brutal dry season, and drought conditions, most probably abandoned by his family simply because he could no longer keep up with the herd.  He was named Wanjala after the area from where he was found.



A happy little Wanjala

After a week or so he had regained significant strength enough to be able to join the other nursery ele orphans and their Keepers in the forest and on the plains of Nairobi National Park and very quickly made special friends and settled into all the routines like a veteran.  Over the past month we have been delighted with Wanjala's progress, rescued literally from the jaws of death as the last remnants of his strength were ebbing away.  A lovely gentle bull who has grown stronger thanks to intensive care and is back to perfect health surrounded by a new loving nurturing family, both two footed and four.

On your way though Nairobi why not visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust nursery and see Wanjala, and all the other baby eles with their new family. Speak to one of our consultants today to organise it all for you!

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