The rescue of Rukinga: the latest addition to the Baby Orphan Elephant Family


The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (Kenya)

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (Kenya)

Dear Readers,

This tiny orphan was found by the Rukinga team rangers attached to a patrol base on Mgeno Ranch in the Voi area on the 27th of September 2012. He was first seen alone near a cattle waterhole called Panda II. There was no evidence of any wild elephants remaining in the area, and he had obviously been alone for some time as his ears were becoming tender and sun burnt. The scouts monitored him for a further three hours to be sure that his herd or mother was not going to return. In this time it was evident the calf was desperate for company, joining a herd of cattle that had come in to water. He was only a few weeks old, with the dried remnants of his umbilical cord still showing on his underside, and given the increase of poaching in this area it is possible his mother was poached as elephants rarely leave their young.

Rukinga's arrival at the Elephant Nursery Camp in Kenya

Rukinga’s arrival at the Elephant Nursery Camp in Kenya

The team who found him was a joint patrol between Kenya Wildlife Service and Wildlife Works, an umbrella organization involved in supporting the management of 14 ranches in the area through the sale of carbon credits from the land.  Rukinga was brought to the local patrol base and there, bewildered, he was tethered to a tree. A film crew studying the effects of poaching in the area joined him, and kept him company until The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Team from the Voi Rehabilitation Unit was called to collect him in their vehicle.


Rukinga enjoying a well-loved mud and dust bath

Rukinga enjoying a well-loved mud and dust bath

Meanwhile the Nairobi rescue team was deployed and flew to meet the Voi Keepers on the ground in order to collect the calf and bring him to the Nursery Unit, joining the other young orphans at the rehabilitation centre in Nairobi. He is very young, we think approximately three weeks, but is a huge calf, almost the size of Barsilinga and he totally dwarfs little Kinango. His arrival was initially met with a luke warm reception from the older Nursery orphans who tended to shun him for little Kinango. He did not seem overly distressed by this though having battened onto the Keepers by this stage.

However over time Sonje and Murera have taken him under their wings and he is now basking in their love. Murera is the oldest orphan in the Nursery and now that she has healed it has been amazing to watch her change, from being reclusive during her wounded months, preferring the company of her Keepers and Orwa only, later Sonje too, and now she is a boisterous member of the Nursery herd, and even with the capacity to show maternal instinct towards the new little calf who has settled in well and seems totally content with his new elephant family.

Rukinga in the safre and caring hands of his caretaker

Rukinga in the safre and caring hands of his caretaker

To view more photos of Rukinga please click on this link: PHOTOS RUKINGA

A film of his rescue can be viewed by clicking this link: FILM RUKINGAS RESCUE

To Foster Rukinga please click on this link: FOSTER RUKINGA


We would welcome your financial support by donating directly online to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust through this link: DONATION.

Most Sincerely,

Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E.

Rukinga welcomed with love by the other Elephants at the Baby Orphan Elephant at the Baby Orphan Elephants

Rukinga welcomed with love by the other Elephants

We at ‘’ with Ryan Mackie are a proud supporter of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  Helping and supporting these incredible creatures to regain their strengths in order to have a natural life in a free roaming herd when they are older makes our hearts warm.  To view our foster certificate of Faraja, please click here: Faraja Foster Certificate for Ryan Mackie.

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