Date of Birth: January 2016
Age on Arrival: 4 months
Reason For Being Orphaned: Stuck in Mud
Where: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nursery Nairobi Kenya Africa
Too Cute For Photos, see AMBO’s Orphan Profile & video at: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
It may have been just another rescue to some but for this baby elephant, having survived countless hours mired in mud, it was a joyful hour when he was spotted by the men on a mission to find him. And it wasn’t an easy task, given the inclement weather (& cloud cover) which made for a precarious landing for the small plane from The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which was fully equipped to receive such precious cargo.
If not for a villager who brought the orphaned elephant’s plight to the attention of a Big Life Ranger, Ambo (named for Amboseli, the area where he was found), would most certainly have succumbed to his surrounding circumstance.
It was late in the day, about 5pm on the 24th of April, when little Ambo’s rescuers “deployed two off-road vehicles to the scene”. But in no time they discovered that the calf had somehow “freed himself” from the mud hole without assistance and was already out meandering around.
Perhaps he was looking for his mama and that would have been the ideal situation, to reunite the little bull with his own elephant herd. But with every rescue comes the unlikelihood that a baby elephant will ever find their own families, they having already traveled on, far away from their little calf. The baby elephant’s survival must now depend on kind humans and the support they will find with their new family of elephant friends.
The sun was beginning to set, beckoning nightfall. Yet the rangers continued their search having lost their trail on Ambo only the previous hour; the mud that had been sloughing off his body began to dry up, signaling the end of Ambo’s baby elephant tracks. When the little elephant was finally illuminated by the headlights of their rescue vehicles the rangers were relieved. Yet they were also surprised by his appearance as he seemed so much younger now.
With this they soon realized (after observing Ambo out on his own for an additional hour) that the baby elephant would never be able to navigate his way back to his elephant herd, not even taking into consideration that he was a much weakened calf. (He may have been a sizable calf for his age but the hours, even days he had gone without milk or even water made him vulnerable to collapse.)
Now, given the late hour (9pm) a decision was made to transport Ambo to a local “room” in Ol Tokai. At last, the orphaned elephant was encouraged to rest, securely watched over by “the ranger whose brother” had first discovered the calf.
A good night’s sleep can only work wonders and for this little elephant his new dawn signaled a new life as well. But it would have to wait a little longer as the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s team of rescuers had been grounded by the torrential rain in Nairobi. (All the while keepers at the orphaned elephant nursery were busy preparing a fresh stable for their plucky little arrival.)
With the efforts of “the Big Life rangers (& Craig Millar), the Ol Tokai staff, and Katito from ATE, Ambo was transported to the airfield very early the following morning. But it was after 9 am when a DSWT plane was able to break through the clouds and land. A bond formed instantly, however, between the baby elephant and his rescuers. It appeared that Ambo was quite docile with them and took to his first bottle of elephant formula with delight.
Once aboard the aircraft Ambo was stabilized with a “saline drip” but the crew faced another short delay before they were able to safely take to the skies, given the “zero visibility conditions in Nairobi as the rain continued to bucket down.”
That small window of opportunity that had allowed the flight crew their much needed safety ( in transporting the baby elephant) had again offered the DSWT rescue team a chance to “off-load” their precious cargo without so much as being hampered by even one small shower. The “wet and sodden conditions” that had caused so much trauma to little Ambo by entrapping him in the mud, had finally ended. It would just be another 20 minute ride in a “covered DSWT pickup” before the calf would finally be home.
“The little bull calf” was clearly showing signs of exhaustion by the end of his journey. Yet, despite his excitement Ambo was “calm enough to lie on the soft hay and have a well-deserved sleep” blanketed in the safety of the nursery stables. And throughout the night a DSWT keeper was by his side ready to attend to all of his needs including monitoring his progress on the hydrating drip. It also helped that he was bunked between two elephant stable mates, new arrivals like himself, which further calmed him down.
And just as the curious baby elephant first showed a profound interest when he inspected the edges of a medic’s tarp** (with his little trunk on the tarmac at the airstrip) so little Ambo has also enthusiastically explored his new home at the DSWT. The little bull has also reached out to his keepers and newfound elephant friends.
**The rescuers would later use this tarp to assist them in loading the calf onto the small plane.
The orphaned elephant is “thankfully thriving” and embracing the routine that greets him at the DSWT Nursery each and every day. He is said to be “full of character” and very loving to both “his Keepers and the other orphaned elephants.” Little Ambo loves his new life at the DSWT as much as he loves wearing his baby elephant coat. He also loves hiding under his new warm elephant-sized blanky! (See how this baby elephant smiles as he is covered with his special elephant sized blue blanket here.) It’s the best life an orphaned baby elephant in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa could possibly have.
Note: At The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust you may “foster your orphan” from 1 year to up to 10 years! And before you submit your donation you “may select a few more orphans to foster” at the same time (for those of us who cannot decide!)
The orphaned elephants at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are “reliant on your kind support” and, as always, the future of our elephants is in our hands.
See Photo Gallery of little AMBO at DSWT:
Watch video of Ambo’s Rescue you can almost see a smile on the little elephant’s face as he can finally relax inside his stable, his head partially covered by a warm blue blanket. Then he appears quite peckish as he forages enthusiastically, bright orange checkered blanket securely tied upon his back. Here he shares in his snack with other DSWT Nursery Orphans before playfully scoping out the camera with his little trunk.
See a too cute photo of little Ambo wearing his orange blanky, scratching up against a tree! (bottom of page here)
The DSWT also has an official Instagram account
credit: public domain drawing of baby elephant