In a remarkable rescue mission on September 9, 2018, Mr. Salim Makomba, the Company Commander of KWS Taita Ranches, sprang into action after receiving a distress call from the local community.
Their plea for help centered on a young elephant trapped in Mzee Kirema’s dam just outside Tsavo East National Park, near Mackinnon Road. The incident unfolded in the early hours of that day.
Watch the video at the end.
The previous evening, locals had given water to their livestock while a group of elephants roamed the area, seemingly without any signs of distress.
However, the following morning, on September 9, they returned to find a young elephant struggling in the middle of the dam.
The calf appeared to have encountered difficulties during the night, and the locals were uncertain how long he had been fighting for survival.
The terrain around the dam was treacherous, making it nearly impossible for the calf to regain its footing once it slipped.
Furthermore, the rest of the herd couldn’t assist, as they had moved away from the scene, sensing the urgency and danger.
With a sense of urgency, KWS Rangers responded by carefully approaching the calf after shedding their uniforms.
Patience and care were vital in guiding the calf to the dam’s edge, where a group of people helped in the extraction process.
Transporting the exhausted calf to a nearby KWS camp in a land cruiser, the Rangers swiftly contacted the DSWT-funded Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, led by KWS Vet Dr. Poghon. Keepers from the DSWT Voi Relocation Unit joined Dr. Poghon at the site.
Dr. Poghon and the DSWT Keepers, concerned about the calf’s condition, decided that intensive care was needed for survival.
They promptly called for assistance from the DSWT helicopter team.
The calf was stabilized with an IV drip, and its body temperature was cooled with water, especially given the scorching midday heat.
The compacted mud was meticulously removed, particularly around the calf’s ears.
The DSWT Helicopter, piloted by Andy Payne, arrived without delay to transport the baby elephant to Nairobi.
The team efficiently prepared the calf for the flight, ensuring the IV drip remained secure for necessary fluid intake.
Upon landing in Nairobi Park, Nursery Keepers welcomed the calf, who, remarkably, stood for the first time since its rescue, adapting calmly to its new surroundings.
It eagerly consumed warm milk and fresh greens, expressing gratitude for the help received.
During the night, a Keeper stayed with a young bull named Dololo, feeding him milk bottles every three hours and providing freshly cut greens.
After being submerged in dirty water for hours, the calf’s eyes needed attention, requiring antibiotics to prevent pneumonia and water ingestion into the lungs.
Dololo, named after the region of his rescue, was initially weak and plagued by a significant worm infestation.
This condition was likely present even before his waterhole ordeal, as he was in poor health and infested with parasites, a common issue among elephants living in areas heavily populated by livestock.
After a deworming regimen, Dololo regained strength and eventually joined Luggard and another calf named Merru in the park during the day.
The presence of Luggard and Merru, older and calmer elephants, proved to be therapeutic for the frail calf. With time, he grew stronger and spent more time with the elder elephants.
Dololo’s remarkable recovery, reflecting his good fortune in being rescued in the nick of time, is a heartwarming testament to the resilience of these magnificent creatures.
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