Maktao’s Inspiring Journey: A Tale of Rescue and Redemption in the Elephant Kingdom

In a momentous turn of events on July 21, 2017, the DSWT Ziwani Anti-Poaching team received a distress call from a vigilant community member.

The report detailed a lone elephant calf navigating hostile terrain near Tsavo West National Park.

Watch the video at the end.


Sensing the urgency, team leader Peter Wambua and his crew quickly sprang into action to rescue the orphaned baby.

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The decision to intervene was prompted by suspicions of human-wildlife conflict leading to the young elephant’s abandonment.

Reports indicated instances of crop-raiding elephants in neighboring communities, raising concerns about potential conflicts in the area.

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Guided by Dr. Poghon, a KWS veterinary officer, and accompanied by KWS rangers, the rescue team located the distressed calf.

After a careful assessment, the decision was made to save him.

The calf was captured and, with the assistance of a helicopter, safely transported to the KWS’s Makatao base within Tsavo West National Park.

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Coordinating the rescue, Angela Sheldrick arranged for the DSWT helicopter to airlift the calf from Makatao to the Trust’s Nairobi Nursery.

With meticulous preparation by DSWT pilots Andy Payne and Neville Sheldrick, the flight was equipped with all the necessary provisions for the young elephant’s journey.

Upon arrival at Makatao, the team encountered a thirsty yet spirited calf showing signs of dehydration.

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While unable to immediately provide the correct milk formula, the calf was given water to quench his thirst.

Once ready, he was gently loaded into the helicopter, with Neville ensuring his comfort during the flight.

Named Maktao after the area of his rescue, the calf displayed an innate attitude and energy from the beginning.

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His integration into the Nursery herd, led by Luggard, Sattao, and Musiara, alongside surrogate mothers Mbegu and Godoma, played a pivotal role in his recovery.

Initially restless and yearning for his lost family, Maktao gradually found solace and companionship among his newfound elephant friends.

Estimated to be around three months old upon arrival, Maktao’s resilience and spirited nature became evident as he healed both physically and emotionally.

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Today, Maktao thrives within the elephant family at the Nursery, symbolizing the strength and resilience that defines these magnificent creatures.

His journey from a vulnerable, abandoned calf to an energetic member of the herd is a testament to the unwavering dedication and care provided by the DSWT team.

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