Date of Birth: Sunday 22 October 2006
Where now: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust at Voi with the Partially Independent Orphans
This baby elephant is growing up!
She was “just two weeks old and absolutely tiny” when found and her baby elephant ears were “very sun burnt” which was a sign that Lempaute had not been looked after by her mama for a full day or more.
Conjecture at just how such a vulnerable little elephant would be found alone and wandering along a road commonly used as a “migration route” by her elephant family and ancestors pointed to a “stampede or panic separation”. During the “wet season” when elephants routinely bolted “through from Laikipia to the Matthews Range” (often in the dead of night “in order to avoid hostile humans”) it is not unheard of, in the rush, for a newborn elephant to be left behind.
On the day of Lempaute’s discovery there was not an elephant in sight anywhere around. Except for this tiny and weary calf. On foot, West Gate Conservancy scouts were just going about their daily routine, making their rounds, when what should appear “walking all alone down a road” but little Lempaute.
As the humans caught up to her the baby elephant took off running and “screaming” finding refuge among the “undergrowth in the bush”. It wasn’t long, however, until Lempaute turned up again and this time she stuck like glue with the scouts walking with them for almost an hour until such time as a patrol vehicle (“summoned by radio”) was able to gather them all up and save the little elephant.
Knowing that little Lempaute was a milk dependent calf time was of the essence and as a “rescue plane” sought a place to land (out in the bush “on the South bank of the Ewaso Niro River”) the “land cruiser” was making its way with its precious cargo soon to be loaded on board.
But first the baby elephant needed to be stabilized by the DSWT keepers and Lempaute was instantly receptive “to both the rehydration and the milk” offered to her pre flight. Now, considering Nairobi was an hour away Lempaute’s keepers “loosely bound” her legs for her safety and this, along with the panic of experiencing her first flight, sent her “screaming, fighting”, and forcefully “struggling against the straps”.
After landing safely at her new home, the baby elephant had her rescuers quite worried. DSWT keepers even “expected the worst” after witnessing little Lempaute’s desperate and weakened state as she was unloaded from the plane.
“She was absolutely exhausted, unable to walk and breathing rapidly, all the while flapping her ears.” But as Lempaute “slowly began to calm down” (in an hour’s time) “her breathing became normal”, for a baby elephant and all heaved a sigh of relief.
Greeted by the elephant orphans Lesanju and Shimba, little Lempaute (“named after the area in which she was found”) had instant “playmates”. But it was Lempaute and Lesanju who became “instantly inseparable” so much so that the baby elephants (mostly Lempaute) became unable to sleep if they were not side by side.
Not one to be outshined, mischievous Lempaute has craved an enormous amount of attention. But she has always been “irresistible” when pouring on her elephant charm. Adorable just couldn’t begin to describe her!
Today the three pachyderms (Lesanju and Shimba, & Lempaute) live at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s “Voi relocation unit”, and as they all “came through the Nursery as inseparable friends” they are now, together, head of the welcoming committee at Voi “providing protection and guidance for the new arrivals”. Serving to administer comfort just as they once were comforted. For they are all Growing Up Ele at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and oh, what fortunate (and pampered!) young elephants they are and continue to be. And deservedly so.
To learn more about The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s ( DSWT ) Fostering Program and how to Adopt Lempaute see: DSWT
Featured drawing elephant painting credit: Shades of Grey by Gwenn Seemel on Creative Commons Flickr