Elephant of the Week or Elephants to Adopt / Foster / Sponsor

KILAGUNI : Elephant of the Week at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust : Into the Wild : Part 1


Date of Birth: 11 December 2008, a Thursday

“DSWT orphaned elephants are assigned approximate birth dates as there is no way of knowing the actual day they were born”.

Date of Rescue 22 May 2009   

Age When Rescued:  appox. 5 months

Gender: Male

Where Now: “Living Wild”  Rehabilitated back Into the Wild by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust  Nairobi Kenya Africa


Foster  / Adopt This Sweet Elephant


See Kilaguni’s Latest Photos at SWT

Location of Rescue: “Tsavo Ecosystem, Tsavo West NP”

See Area on Fostering Map


Image: CC Flickr by Mary Gillham Archive Project: Kilaguni elephants drinking at waterhole, Tsavo, perhaps ancestors of rescued baby bull Kilaguni


Baby elephant’s Rescue Video: The orphans’ project in action — Kilaguni’s journey”    


Elephant Became Orphaned Because of: “unknown” But given the situation in which the little bull elephant was found poaching was the most likely cause.

Situation Surrounding Orphaned Elephant’s Discovery:  The carcass of Kilaguni’s mama most likely brought attention to the tiny baby elephant who still clung to her side. In death the mother elephant had, in effect, saved her baby’s life as instead of continuing to attack little Kilaguni the hyenas found satisfaction in the remains of the larger elephant nearby. Kilaguni’s condition also led rescuers to believe that, fortunately, he had “only been without his mother for a couple of days”

Insights into Orphan’s Elephant Herd:  There were no other elephants in the area where the baby bull elephant, Kilaguni was found. As with any conflict in which a Mother elephant is killed, Kilaguni’s elephant herd had no choice but to move on. Sadly, a baby elephant was left behind.


Condition of Orphaned Elephant When Rescued: Turns out he was in “fair physical condition” considering the ordeal he had been through.

Lifesaving Measures Taken:  As he was “desperate for milk and water” he was immediately given an elephant baby bottle with baby elephant formula then prepared for his immediate transport to the elephant orphanage at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Transported Via: DSWT rescue plane

For Complete Story see Kilaguni’s Orphan Profile


Image: CC Flickr by Mary Gillham Archive Project: Africa Tsavo twilight Elephants in Kilaguni, perhaps ancestors of rescued baby bull Kilaguni


Upon Arrival at the DSWT Nursery:  Darkness had already set in when the sweet bull elephant was escorted into his new stable at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Working “by torchlight” the “extent of Kilaguni’s… wounds” became known. “His entire tail had been bitten off, leaving just a swollen stump at the base, with surrounding tooth punctures clearly visible. Bite sized chunks had been taken from both ears, and there were wounds on his back legs, some fairly deep.” Quite an ordeal for any baby elephant to have survived.


Essential Medical Treatment: Kilaguni’s stomach “was in a mess” and his treatment included blockers and antibiotics as is common for little elephants. He also “had to endure the usual prophylactic injections from day one.” Cleaning and dressing the wounds of the hyena attack was quite a painful process for any elephant to endure let alone one just orphaned and not yet understanding the situation he was in. To cope with his trauma little Kilaguni would reach out to his new human keepers “desperately sucking on their fingers” instead of acting out in fear, or with aggression, as one would expect from a traumatized baby elephant such as Kilaguni.


What Makes This Sweet Elephant Unique:  Some would say it (his uniqueness) is because of his missing tail, resulting from a hyena attack when he was just a calf. But that is just a physical trait one sees when one thinks of little Kilaguni.  This little bull’s uniqueness has always come from the inside in the form of his goodness, to his rescuers, his human Keepers and to all of his elephant friends. Kilaguni was “immediately loving to the Keepers,” a sweet elephant down deep in his soul.

Did we say that Kilaguni was also a star? He appears in the IMAX film Born to Be Wild!       Learn more from They’ve Come So Far: Nursery Graduates From the Class of 2010! : Into the Wild  (see KILAGUNI: Elephant of the Week at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust : Into the Wild: Part 2)


Image: CC Flickr by phil aka smudger888 cloudy skies at sunset Kilaguni, Africa


Baby Elephant’s Personality Traits: They said he was a sweet little boy right from the start. His rescuers remarked: “He is very calm and seems to know he is being helped.”  A “very special little elephant.” (Both quotes from rescue video ) Kilaguni is a “remarkable” little elephant, given how gentle he was toward the humans who rescued him and saved his life. This lack of “aggression or fear from the start… in an elephant of that age is most unusual and usually cause for concern – too calm for comfort, as experience has taught us (The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) over the years”.


Baby Elephant’s New Friends: Tassia, a baby bull elephant who had been rescued just months before Kilaguni, & slept in a connecting stockade, became immediate friends with him. Two days after Kilaguni’s arrival (& initial medical treatments) “he was allowed to join the other Nursery elephants out in the bush” to play.  Mutara and Ndii also shared a special bond with Kilaguni, having lost their elephant families recently as well.

To once again find himself protected, and surrounded by other elephants such as himself, & by kind and loving humans, could only bring comfort to little Kilaguni. And as his life has shown so far (he has since been rehabilitated back ‘Into the Wild’) it takes this special collaboration of humans and elephants to let each orphaned elephant know that they will never walk alone again, from that moment on.


His Keeper’s Diary includes updates on Kilaguni and his other sweet elephant friends. Search “Kilaguni” from the Keeper’s Dairies Page

Quotes are from Kilaguni’s Orphan Profile


To be continued:  KILAGUNI: Elephant of the Week at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust : Into the Wild: Part 2


Images:  CC Flickr: by Biswajit Das Kunst, Into the wild  Illustration Elephant Drawing ; CC Flickr by Mary Gillham Archive Project, Kilaguni elephants drinking at waterhole, Tsavo, perhaps ancestors of rescued baby bull Kilaguni ;  Africa Tsavo twilight elephants in Kilaguni, perhaps ancestors of rescued baby bull Kilaguni; by phil aka smudger888 cloudy skies at sunset Kilaguni, Africa


Image: CC Flickr Illustration Elephant Drawing by Biswajit Das Kunst

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