His back legs appeared to be severely bow-legged, which hindered his mobility and added a further element of concern to his situation

Not long after the start of the year, we got word about a young calf stranded on El Kerama Ranch in Laikipia. This lone calf was only three years old and clearly couldn’t handle being on his own. To make matters worse, his back legs were badly bowed, making it difficult for him to move around. We knew we had to act fast to save this little guy.

The SWT/KWS team arrived on the scene to assess the calf’s condition. They administered a dart and carefully examined his hind legs. After evaluating him, they determined he had a birth defect but didn’t require further treatment. Based on his age, they decided to release him, hoping he’d be found by a passing herd. Unfortunately, weeks passed with no reunion in sight. The calf lived a lonely life, ignored by other elephants and increasingly at risk from predators. KWS ultimately decided to rescue the orphan and bring him into our care.

As the calf was too large for air transport, we arranged for a ground operation to move it to the Nursery. Our team used an elephant moving truck to cover the long distance from Nanyuki to El Kerama Ranch. We stayed overnight to prepare for the rescue mission scheduled for the following morning.

As we arrived at our designated spot early on February 1st, we were disappointed to discover that the calf was missing. Our team and the staff from El Kerama went on a thorough search through the dense foliage, but the little one was nowhere in sight. We feared the worst, thinking that lions or hyenas had gotten to him. However, much to our relief, we eventually found him hiding in a thicket.

The entire group felt a sense of relief when they finally located the young calf. They quickly tranquilized him and transported him in a truck, where he woke up in a comfortable compartment filled with hay and soft bedding. The experienced Keepers and veterinary team kept a close eye on him throughout the journey, but the calf remained surprisingly relaxed. The convoy arrived at the Nursery in Nairobi at night, and it took multiple men to guide the large calf into his enclosure. He was placed next to Kiasa, who was immediately worried about her new neighbor. However, she quickly took it upon herself to comfort him by extending her trunk and keeping a watchful presence at their shared partition. Thanks to Kiasa’s calming influence, the calf was soon drinking milk from a bottle and feeling at ease with his Keepers.

The rescues of calves are truly touching, especially when they have been isolated for a significant period of time. Witnessing their gratitude and appreciation upon being saved is always heartwarming. One particular calf, whom we named Rama, was overjoyed to be amongst a new family and showed affection to everyone around him, including the caretakers and other orphans. We decided to name him Rama as a tribute to El Kerama Ranch, where he was born.

Although Rama was happy to leave behind his lonely experience, the struggle to ensure his survival was only just starting. He suffered from a severe worm infestation, and we had to treat him with utmost care while also managing his delicate health. During his initial days with us, we were constantly on our toes, as he would frequently collapse, and we had to work together to revive him through IV drips. However, once he was rid of the parasites, his condition improved significantly, and the sheer amount of worms that were expelled from his body was truly astounding.

It’s crucial to get the rescued animals acquainted with their peers as soon as possible, especially for those who crave companionship like Rama. As soon as he regained his strength, we took him for his first stroll in the woods. We made sure to keep him close to the younger orphans, letting him experience their daily routine. The little ones were genuinely overjoyed to have a new buddy and swarmed around him, eager to spend time with their fresh company.

Despite making significant progress in his health, Rama still suffered from inexplicable health issues. Fortunately, his bow legs did not pose as much of a problem as anticipated, and while they gave him a unique appearance and walk, he was still able to move around without much difficulty. However, it was concerning that his vision seemed to be rapidly declining until he eventually lost it completely. Despite consulting a specialist who confirmed that his eyes were perfectly fine, it appeared as though there were underlying neurological factors causing this condition. Interestingly, Rama seemed unfazed by this development and continued with his daily routine, relying on his sense of smell and hearing. Fortunately, there is hope for Rama as his vision is gradually improving with each passing day.

Rama is an extraordinary calf who has conquered difficult circumstances with a brave attitude, much like Luggard. Those who encounter Rama, whether human or elephant, are captivated by his infectious joy for life and love for those around him. It’s hard to fathom how frightened he must have been during his solitary weeks, but Rama has proven himself to be a fighter – and he’ll never have to face loneliness again.

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