As night sets, an orphaned elephant calf keeps watch over the body of his lifeless mother, indifferent to the cold and predators.
As the dramatic scene unfolded in Samburu, northern Kenya, the five-month-old rested his trunk on her.
Throughout the night, keepers from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), Kenya Wildlife Service, and Save the Elephants worked to catch the calf, who refused to leave his mother’s side.
Vets finally tranquilized the child in the early hours of the morning before transporting him to the Samburu airfield.
The calf was prepared for his journey to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage by a team of veterinarians, engineers, and specialists.
The nursery is Kenya’s only one, and elephants come from all around the nation to visit. It’s near a coffee farm and a conservation area, and it’s in Nairobi National Park.
After the flight, the dehydrated calf was transported to the orphanage, where caretakers rehydrated him with milk and water.
Some of the nursery’s other 30 elephants were brought in to welcome and soothe Sokotei, the newcomer.
Despite his shock at his new circumstances, the mourning calf quickly made new friends.
‘It was a race against time to keep Sokotei safe as the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Save the Elephants worked to save his life. The crew was on hand to assist the tiny calf, and everyone worked through the night to keep him safe from predators. Director of the DSWT, Rob Brandford, stated.
‘Alone, he was fairly exposed, but it had to wait until morning, when everyone got up early and willing to face a dramatic few hours because it was pouring and he was a wild creature,’ says the author.
The rescue featured the DSWT’s ‘Orphans Project,’ which saved and reintegrated elephants back into the wild.
The Elephant Project looks after orphaned elephants that are still’milk dependent.’
The elephants are subsequently transported to one of two Tsavo National Park reintegration centers, one in Voi and the other in Ithumba.
‘Once Sokotei is old enough to travel to one of our reintegration facilities, he’ll be sent out into the jungle to meet other herds, figure out what’s edible, and learn how to be a wild elephant,’ concluded Brandford.
‘It’s a lengthy operation that is dependent on the age of the child when they were discovered.’ It may take seven to eight years for them to live in the wild if they were extremely young and had no memories of life in the wild.’
The Trust saved around 50 elephants last year, with the number rising every year as poaching grows more common, resulting in more orphaned calves.
Cherie, the elephant’s mother,passed away from a terrible intestinal illness brought on by a twisted belly.