Sagateisa’s Triumph: A Remarkable Tale of Resilience in the Face of Adversity

In the harsh grip of an unforgiving dry season in Tsavo on November 24, 2021, a distress call shattered the usual tranquility.

Taita Sanctuary scouts had discovered a lone infant elephant succumbing to the harsh conditions.

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Strangely isolated, the calf was battling the dire effects of the drought, a common plight for weakened calves during such times.


Swift action ensued as the SWT/KWS Ziwani Anti-Poaching unit patrolled the Sagateisa region within Taita ranches.

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What they found was a malnourished elephant, her rear end severely injured, likely from an encounter with a cunning predator, possibly a hyena.

Faced with the situation’s urgency, a joint effort with KWS was mobilized to orchestrate a rescue operation.


The Voi team was pivotal in transporting the fragile calf to the nearest airstrip.

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A Cessna Caravan then airlifted her to Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, where dedicated Keepers eagerly awaited her arrival at the Nursery. The journey, however, was just the beginning of an arduous battle for her survival.

Sagateisa’s physical state mirrored the severity of her ordeal. The drought had left her skeletal, with dry, wrinkled skin, and her injuries from the hyena attack were painfully infected. Even her ears hung lifelessly forward, a stark sign of her deteriorating health.


Yet, amidst this bleak outlook, the young elephant exhibited an unexpected resilience that would define her journey.

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Despite several close brushes with death, Sagateisa demonstrated a remarkable determination to survive.

Collaborating with her Keepers, she endured the discomfort of her injuries and actively participated in her healing process.


Her appetite for life was evident as she eagerly consumed nourishing milk and greens.

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What initially seemed an impossible task gradually transformed into a story of progress, with Sagateisa regaining her strength over weeks.

Arriving at the Nursery during a period of near-full capacity, Sagateisa found a unique home in the double stable once occupied by Luggard, a legendary elephant known for his courage.


The location, now vacant since Luggard’s departure, offered seclusion and shelter, making it an ideal haven for Sagateisa.

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The parallel between the two elephants’ tenacity against adversity became a poignant aspect of Sagateisa’s story.

As her strength returned, Sagateisa embraced the simple joys of life. Leading the group and playfully charging into muddy areas showcased her newfound vitality.


Angela Sheldrick, recognizing her potential, hinted at the possibility of Sagateisa emerging as a matriarch in the future.

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Despite her small stature, Sagateisa’s impressive tenacity continues to captivate, marking a triumph against all odds.

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