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Double Trouble: Two Baby Elephant Rescues in April at the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project

By Jane Okoth

a baby elephant walks with a red blanket on its back
Mwakazi, a rescued baby elephant, going for a walk at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage

The ongoing drought in Kenya has led to a scarcity of water and food, causing elephant herds to roam long distances in search of resources, which can unfortunately result in young and weak members being left behind.


On the 3rd or April 2023, the Wildlife Works team at the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project received a call from a local community member advising us that a baby elephant had been abandoned by its herd in Rukanga, a water catchment dam in the project area. With this information, Wildlife Works’ Head of Security dispatched  a ground ranger  patrol team to the scene to verify the information. Upon arrival, they found a 3 month old baby elephant that had been abandoned, and no herd in sight. The team remained with the calf while Danny Zuma, Wildlife Works’ gyrocopter pilot was requested to fly over the area to see if any elephant herds were evident. This was crucial in deciding whether it would be possible to reintroduce the baby into the herd or if the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust would need to take in the calf to their elephant orphanage.  

  

With no herds in the vicinity, and given that the baby elephant had been in the dam since the weekend, the Kasigau team Project Lead made the necessary decision to request the elephant to be airlifted by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

rangers surround a baby elephant covered with a blanket
Wildlife Works rangers prepare the elephant to be airlifted to Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Elephant Orphanage

In another similar incident on the 6th of April 2023 at around midnight, a three-month-old male elephant was discovered in a community cattle enclosure kicking a 20-liter water drum, which quickly got the attention of the herders. Extremely thirsty, it had most likely not been able to keep up with its family and had been separated from them.

The cattle herders quickly contacted Wildlife Works patrol base nearby to advise them of the situation. Upon arrival at the area, our team decided it was best to transport the calf to the Wildlife Works headquarters for the rest of the night. At the break of dawn, our Project Lead contacted Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and requested air evacuation assistance.

a helicopter on red dirt
The Shledrick Wildlife Trust helicopter used for elephant rescues

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust immediately dispatched their helicopter and a trained orphan elephant keeper to our headquarters and by 9.00 am, little Mwakazi (named after a small rocky hill where he was found) was airlifted to their orphanage in Nairobi.

Ten days on, Mwakazi is doing well and is another example of our commitment, coupled with the expertise of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, to save elephants that are caught up in the horrendous drought.


Both baby elephants are now safe and in good hands, all thanks to great teamwork between the members of the community, Wildlife Works, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service.


Learn more about The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/


baby elephant being bottle fed by a man
Mwakazi being bottle-fed by a caretaker at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage


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