Maktao’s Journey: A Remarkable Rescue and Rebirth into Elephant Family

On the fateful morning of July 21, 2017, a concerned community member alerted the DSWT Ziwani Anti-Poaching team about a lone elephant calf spotted in hostile territory near Tsavo West National Park. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the team, led by Peter Wambua, swiftly mobilized to rescue the orphaned baby.

The decision to intervene was made, suspecting human-wildlife conflict as the cause of the young elephant’s abandonment. Reports indicated that neighboring communities had suffered from crop-raiding elephants, leading to potential conflicts in the area.

The rescue team, accompanied by KWS rangers, located the distressed calf and, after consulting with Dr. Poghon, a KWS veterinary officer, decided to save him. The calf was captured, and with the help of a helicopter, transported to the safety of KWS’s Makatao base within Tsavo West National Park.

Angela Sheldrick, coordinating the rescue, immediately arranged for the DSWT helicopter to airlift the calf from Makatao to the Trust’s Nairobi Nursery. The flight was prepped with necessary equipment, and DSWT pilots Andy Payne and Neville Sheldrick ensured everything was in place for the young elephant’s journey.

Upon arrival at Makatao, the team found a thirsty yet perky calf, indicating signs of dehydration. Unable to provide the correct milk formula immediately, the calf was given water to quench his thirst. Once prepared, he was loaded into the helicopter, with Neville ensuring his comfort during the flight.

 
 
 
The calf, named Maktao after the area he was found, exhibited attitude and energy from the start. His integration into the Nursery herd, led by Luggard, Sattao, and Musiara, along with the nurturing presence of surrogate mothers Mbegu and Godoma, played a crucial role in his recovery.

Initially restless and searching for his lost family, Maktao gradually found solace and companionship among his newfound elephant friends. Estimated to be about three months old at arrival, Maktao’s resilience and spirited nature became apparent as he healed both physically and emotionally.

Today, Maktao thrives within the elephant family at the Nursery, embodying the strength and resilience that defines these magnificent creatures. His journey from a vulnerable, abandoned calf to an energetic member of the herd stands as a testament to the dedication and care provided by the DSWT team.

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