16-Month-Old Female Elephant Captures Hearts During Routine Patrol in the Irima Area

Neville Sheldrick, the vigilant pilot, circled around the distressed calf multiple times, taking precautions to ensure the safety of the DSWT Burra Anti-Poaching Team. Accompanied by KWS rangers and Voi Keepers, they monitored her from a distance. Despite thorough observations and searches for signs of her herd, it became evident that she was orphaned and in dire need of help. A rescue mission was swiftly mobilized in consultation with KWS.

Capturing the frightened calf presented a formidable challenge, as she fled for two kilometers before the rescue team managed to surround, catch, and restrain her. She displayed signs of extreme thirst and dehydration, indicating she had been without her mother for an extended period. The first priority for the rescue team was to provide the much-needed hydration she required.

Another team of Keepers from Nairobi was promptly mobilized to fly to Tsavo for the airlift of the calf to the DSWT Nursery. Landing at Voi, the most convenient airstrip, they faced extreme temperatures of 40 degrees, necessitating swift and efficient preparations for the flight due to the calf’s vulnerable state.

In the capable hands of Nairobi Keepers, the calf embarked on a 1 ½ hour flight to Nairobi and arrived in the evening, weak and agitated. Adjusting to her new surroundings and accepting milk from a Keeper’s bottle presented initial challenges. Her stockade, filled with fresh cut greens, provided a welcome change from the parched Tsavo landscape. Estimated to be around one year old, she remained milk-dependent for survival.

In the days that followed, the company of other orphans in surrounding stockades provided her with confidence. Their communication and the daily routine helped her settle faster. A red earth dust bath and a soothing mud mixture further contributed to her well-being. After nearly a week in her stockade, she joined the other orphans in the forest, displaying a bold enthusiasm for her milk bottle and becoming a wonderfully gentle presence.

Named Ndiwa, meaning ‘orphan’ in the Wkamba tribe’s language, this resilient female elephant exemplifies the success of timely intervention, sparing her from the perils of Tsavo’s lions and thirst. Her journey from a distressed orphan in the Irima area to a thriving member of the DSWT Nursery is a testament to the dedication and compassion of those committed to protecting and rehabilitating the vulnerable in Tsavo East National Park.”

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