Date of Birth: Wednesday 20 November 2013
Where: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nursery Nairobi Kenya Africa
Too Cute For Photos see Enkikwe’s orphan profile & video at: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
They were a family just like any other elephant family. (The baby elephant was not quite 11 months old; his big brother, seven; and his mama most likely 20 years old.) They had spent a happy September afternoon playing in the Mara North Conservancy close to an area known as Enkikwei.
But as a new day dawned, as the winter season was waning and spring was showing the beginnings of the promises that it makes (new hope, new life), a tragedy occurred. Enkikwe’s mama, who was so full of life when previously “sighted” and had shown no signs of illness, lay dead.
As elephants are prone to do, the two siblings, not fully understanding the situation, never once moved outside the “orbit” of their mama’s lifeless body (located out “on the Mara plains” close to the “Musiara entrance gate”.) And although his protective older brother did his best to look after the little elephant’s needs, the calf was just “too young and milk dependent” to ever survive on his own.
What puzzled the Management of the Mara North Conservancy was just how this mother elephant died. As they found no “visible injuries” their conjecture was that she consumed something poisonous. (After a “DSWT funded mobile veterinary team based in the Masai Mara” and MNS Management found “signs of acute Gastroenteritis,” poisoning was the only reasonable explanation, considering the rapidity of the African elephant’s death.)
While there was never any hope for the mother elephant her baby could be rescued and in swift succession the team turned to the little calf to give him a chance to live. (As a DSWT team was being mobilized for their flight from Nairobi the Mara North Conservancy’s team had already gathered and loaded the baby elephant onto their moss green land cruiser but little Enkikwe was not yet feeling the love from his rescuers at all. Where was his mama? Where was his brother? They were all living a happy elephant life less than 48 hours ago.)
However, as much they were focused on the calf, everyone’s thoughts never left little Enkikwe’s big brother, who had lost, at the age of 7, not only his security with the death of his mama, but now his “tiny brother, too”. (This fact was “never lost to anybody involved with this case”.) But all of the rescuers felt “confident that he was old enough to be looked after by his loving relatives and given time his physiological wounds would heal”.)
Now it was not going to be an easy road for the baby elephant Enkikwe. Once he arrived at The DSWT he was “full of fight” and so “strong and robust” that it took him several days just to “settle down”. If not for the comforting aura of the “magical Embu” housed in a “stockade” adjacent to the newly orphaned calf, the little elephant may have taken many more months to process just how and why he had suffered this new fate.
For many days and many nights Embu had reassured Enkikwe (“named for the area in which he was found”) that his new home was a good one with caring keepers and a new loving elephant family. And slowly but surely Enkikwe has come around. (He now finds comfort “sharing a night stockade with Embu”.)
While he will never forget his mama or his big brother out on the plains this little elephant most certainly can never forget the kindness of his rescuers who saved his life.
And maybe, just maybe someday, when he is released back into the wild, he will look out into the distance and see the brother of his “natal herd” (the brother that would never have abandoned him) and find a new joy and happiness in that reunion. The kind of reunion that only elephant siblings can share.
For information on how to Adopt Enkikwe see: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
credit: public domain drawing of baby elephant